Some Nepali Students Eligible for Special EADs02 Dec 2015
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is making it easier for Nepali F-1 students, experiencing financial difficulties as a result of the April 25, 2015 earthquake in Nepal, to obtain employment authorization documents (EADs). In a notice published on November 9, 2015, the DHS announced that it is temporarily suspending the applicability of certain requirements that typically must be met for an F-1 student to qualify for issuance of an EAD based on suffering a “severe economic hardship.”
Background: Student Financial Hardship and EADs
In order to obtain F-1 status, a foreign national student must establish the availability of sufficient funds to cover tuition and living expenses in the United States. Parents and/or other family members are often the primary source of such financial support. However, there are situations in which the support can no longer be provided as planned. This type of unforeseen circumstance can be caused by illness, currency fluctuations, civil unrest, business failures, and the like. If this occurs, immigration laws allow for an F-1 foreign student to apply for work authorization. The applicant must demonstrate severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student’s control. A qualifying student must continue to take a full course load and is subject to other restrictions.
Nepali Student EAD Provisions
In order to accommodate the many Nepali F-1 students facing financial problems due to the earthquake, the DHS issued a modified financial hardship EAD option, available only to a limited group. To qualify for an EAD under the newly announced rules, the student must:
1) be a citizen of Nepal.
2) have been present in the United States, in lawful F-1 status, on April 25, 2015.
3) be enrolled in a school that is certified by SEVP for enrollment of F-1 students.
4) be maintaining valid F-1 status.
5) be experiencing severe economic hardship as a result of the April 25th earthquake.
The notice also reduces the credit hours that a qualifying Nepali student must carry to qualify as a fulltime student. Under the new rules, undergraduate students who receive an EAD under these provisions are only required to take a minimum of six credit hours per semester. Graduate-level F-1 students who receive the Nepali hardship EAD are only required to remain registered for a minimum of three credit hours per semester. An F-1 student (either undergraduate or graduate) granted EAD under this rule may use up to the equivalent of one course or three credits per semester of online or distance education toward the minimum course load requirement.
Nepali Hardship EAD Procedures
A qualifying Nepali student may receive authorization for on-campus employment without filing any application with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Rather, the school’s designated school official (DSO) needs to properly note the student’s SEVIS record and the student’s I-20 form. This on-campus employment may be full time under the relaxed rules.
While Nepal may be half-a-world away from the United States, it is clear that the impact of the earthquakes still lingers there. The relaxed rules for Nepali F-1 students to obtain EADs provides a bit of much-needed relief to those still enduring the repercussions of a devastating force of nature.
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