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Employment Authorization for Certain Venezuelan F-1 Students

DHS announced that it provides relief to certain Venezuelan F-1 students so that they may request 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 nonimmigrant student status. DHS grants this temporary relief from March 11, 2024, through September 10, 2025.

To be eligible for the relief, such students must meet all the following conditions:

  • Are F-1 students whose country of citizenship is Venezuela, regardless of country of birth (or individuals having no nationality who last habitually resided in Venezuela);
  • Were lawfully present in the United States in lawful F-1 nonimmigrant status on March 11, 2024;
  • Having been enrolled in an academic institution that is Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified for enrollment for F-1 nonimmigrant students;
  • Are currently maintaining F-1 nonimmigrant status; and
  • Are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the situation in Venezuela.

DHS will deem those F-1 nonimmigrant students granted employment authorization to be engaged in a “full course of study” for the duration of the authorization, if they satisfy the minimum course load requirement.

What is the “minimum course load requirement” to maintain valid F-1 nonimmigrant status?

Undergraduate F-1 students who receive on-campus or off-campus employment authorization under this relief must remain registered for a minimum of six semester or quarter hours of instruction per academic term. Undergraduate F-1 students enrolled in a term of different duration must register for at least one half of the credit hours normally required under a “full course of study.”

Graduate-level F-1 students who receive on-campus or off-campus employment authorization under this relief must remain registered for a minimum of three semester or quarter hours of instruction per academic term.

In addition, an F–1 student (either undergraduate or graduate) granted employment authorization under this relief 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, unless their course of study is in an English language study program.

An F–1 nonimmigrant student attending an approved private school in kindergarten through grade 12 or public school in grades 9 through 12 must maintain ‘‘class attendance for not less than the minimum number of hours a week prescribed by the school for normal progress toward graduation.’’

Will an F-1 Student who Receives On-Campus Employment Authorization under this Relief be Authorized to Work more than 20 Hour per week?

An F-1 student covered in this relief may work more than 20 hours per week while school is in session, if the designated school official (DSO) has entered a statement in the student’s SEVIS record stating that the student is approved for more than 20 hours per week of on-campus employment.

How Can I Obtain On-Campus Employment Authorization under the Relief?

To obtain on-campus employment authorization, the F-1 student must demonstrate to the DSO that the employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship directly resulting from the current situation in Venezuela. An F-1 student authorized by the DSO to engage in on-campus employment by this relief needs not to file any applications with USCIS.

What Regulatory Requirements does this Relief Temporarily Suspend relating to Off-Campus Employment?

For an F-1 student covered by this relief, DHS is suspending the regulatory requirements relating to off-campus employment, which are:

  • A student must have been in F-1 status for one full academic year to be eligible for off-campus employment;
  • An F-1 student must demonstrate that acceptance of employment will not interfere with the student’s carrying a full course of study;
  • An F-1 student must not work more than 20 hours per week of off-campus employment while the school is in session; and
  • The student must demonstrate that employment under the default off-campus work authorization is unavailable or otherwise insufficient to meet the needs that have arisen as a result of the unforeseen circumstances.

How Can I Obtain Off-Campus Employment Authorization under the Relief?

To apply for off-campus employment authorization under the relief, an F-1 student must file a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with USCIS together with supporting documentation.

An F-1 student seeking off-campus employment authorization due to severe economic hardship must demonstrate the following to their DSO:

  • This employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship; and
  • The hardship is a direct result of the situation in Venezuela.

If DSO agrees that the F-1 student is entitled to receive such employment authorization, the DSO must recommend application approval to USCIS by entering the recommendation in the student’s SEVIS record.

To facilitate prompt adjudication of the student’s application for off-campus employment authorization, the F–1 student should do the following:

  • Ensure that the application package includes the following documents:
  • A completed Form I–765 with all applicable supporting evidence; 
    • The required fee or properly documented fee waiver request; and
    • A signed and dated copy of the student’s Form I–20 with the appropriate DSO recommendation; and
  • Send the application in an envelope which is clearly marked on the front of the envelope, bottom right-hand side, with the phrase ‘‘SPECIAL STUDENT RELIEF.’’

Will an F-2 Spouse or Child be Eligible for Employment Authorization?

An F-2 spouse or minor child of an F-1 nonimmigrant student is not authorized to work in the United States. Therefore, they may not accept employment.

Please visit here for the original announcement.

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