WASHINGTON — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will publish a notice in the Federal Register Friday that extends employment authorization eligibility for certain F-1 Syrian students who have suffered severe economic hardship as a direct result of the civil unrest in Syria since March 2011. Through the new notice, the Department of Homeland Security Secretary suspends certain regulatory requirements in order to allow eligible Syrian F-1 students to obtain employment authorization, work an increased number of hours during the school term, and, if necessary, reduce their course load while continuing to maintain their F-1 student status.
The new notice expands the pool of students eligible for this relief to include nonimmigrant students from Syria who are lawfully present in the United States in F-1 status on Sept. 9, 2016, and enrolled in an institution certified by ICE's Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). The previous notice only granted relief to nonimmigrant students from Syria who were lawfully present in the United States in F-1 status on April 3, 2012, and enrolled in an SEVP-certified institution.
There has been ongoing civil unrest in Syria since March 2011. Nearly 750 Syrian F-1 students are currently enrolled in schools in the United States. The civil unrest in Syria has increased the financial burden on many of these students, who previously relied on assistance from the Syrian government or family members in Syria to meet basic living expenses. In addition, the situation in Syria has made it unfeasible for these students to safely return to Syria in the foreseeable future.
ICE manages the Student and Exchange Visitor Program and the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, which automates the process for collecting, maintaining, and managing information about international foreign students, exchange visitors and their dependents during their stay in the United States.