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Relief for Haitian F-1 Students

DHS Offers Temporary Employment Authorization to Certain Haitian F-1 Students Affected By the January 12, 2010 Earthquake

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is suspending certain requirements for employment authorization for Haitian F-1 nonimmigrant students experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Why is DHS taking this action?

DHS is taking this action because Haiti has limited resources to cope with a natural disaster such as this earthquake, which was the strongest one to strike the nation in 200 years. As a result, many students with F-1 visas whose primary means of financial support comes from family members in Haiti need special exemption from student employment requirements in order to continue their studies in the United States. Without employment authorization, these students may lack the means to pay basic living expenses.

This temporary relief will allow Haitian F-1 nonimmigrant students to obtain employment authorization, work an increased number of hours while school is in session and reduce their course load, while continuing to maintain their F-1 student status. Please see the minimum course load requirement section below.

Who Is Eligible?

F-1 students whose country of citizenship is Haiti are eligible if they:

  1. Were lawfully present in the United States in F-1 nonimmigrant status on Jan. 12, 2010;
  2. Are enrolled in an institution that is Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certified for the enrollment of F-1 students;
  3. Are currently maintaining F-1 status; and
  4. Are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

For detailed information on each student group, please see the Federal Register notice.

Who Is Not Eligible?

Students who arrived after January 12, 2010 do not meet these requirements even if they are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
Spouses or minor children of an F-1 student are not eligible to accept employment under F-2 status. (See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(15)(i)). The Federal Register notice does not change this general rule.

How Do I Apply?

Students should work with their Designated School Official (DSO) to apply. The application process varies depending on whether the student:

  • Wants to work on- or off-campus. An Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is required for off-campus employment.
  • Already has a job on- or off-campus. If the F-1 student already has an EAD, a new EAD is not required to receive the benefits provided under this notice.
  • Has applied for or received employment authorization based on an application for Temporary Protected Status and wants a reduced course load.
  • Is in good academic standing according to a DSO recommendation.
  • Is carrying a full course of study at the time of request.

Please see the Federal Register notice for detailed information on the application process. The notice includes information on forms and fees.

How does this change affect Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?

This temporary relief does not affect an F-1 student’s eligibility to apply for TPS.  Students may hold temporary protected status and student relief concurrently. They must submit their TPS application according to the instructions provided in the Federal Register notice designating Haiti for TPS
Remember, TPS-related employment authorization alone does not allow you to reduce your course load. To do that, you must obtain student relief through your DSO.

If You And Then
Applied for TPS Were granted employment authorization You may ask your DSO to update your student relief application which will allow you to carry a reduced course load
Are applying for TPS Requested employment authorization You must wait until you receive your Employment Authorization Document and then ask your DSO to make the proper adjustments in Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) before reducing your course load
Applied for Student Relief Would like to apply for Temporary Protected Status You may concurrently apply for both benefits and only pay the employment authorization fee once
Are an F-2 dependent Are granted TPS You may work using your TPS employment authorization, but you would no longer be maintaining your F-2 dependent status, because F-2 dependents cannot work

What is the minimum course load requirement?

Undergraduate students who are granted on-campus or off-campus employment authorization under this notice must remain registered for a minimum of 6 semester/quarter hours of instruction per academic term.  Graduate-level F-1 students who are granted on-campus or off-campus employment authorization under this notice must remain registered for a minimum of 3 semester/quarter hours of instruction per academic term.  See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(5)(v).  In addition, F-1 students (both undergraduate and graduate) granted on-campus or off-campus employment authorization under this notice may count up to the equivalent of one class or three credits per session, term, semester, trimester, or quarter of online or distance education toward satisfying this minimum course load requirement.  See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G).

How long will this student benefit remain in effect?

This notice grants temporary relief to a specific group of F-1 students whose country of citizenship is Haiti until July 22, 2011.  During this period, DHS will continue to monitor the situation in Haiti and will announce any changes in the Federal Register.

Last Reviewed/Updated: 09/14/2010