The US Department of Homeland Security has announced an 18-month designation of Special Student Relief for F-1 international students from Ethiopia.
The decision to suspend certain regulatory requirements for the F-1 non-immigrant students from Ethiopia means that now students experiencing severe hardship as a direct result of the crises in the country can request employment authorisation to work remotely.
They will also be exempt from the standard student employment requirements, and can reduce their course load if necessary.
The Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration “applauded” the news, describing it as “humanitarian flexibility for Ethiopian international students”.
Jill Welch, senior policy advisor for the Presidents’ Alliance said, “Extending these protections and flexibility to Ethiopians living in the United States is vital to the U.S. humanitarian response for Ethiopia.”
“Ethiopian international students need the flexibility to drop a class or work off-campus as they and their families face the financial hardship brought on by the humanitarian crisis back home,” Welch added.
“We urge the administration to continue to use TPS and SSR together”
According to the Federal Register, the action will apply to approximately 3,592 F-1 non-immigrant students who are Ethiopian citizens currently enrolled at SEVP-certified academic institutions in the US.
Ethiopia was also recently designated for Temporary Protected Status, providing protection from deportation and permission to work for Ethiopians living in the US.
In a statement, the Presidents’ Alliance said, “Pairing TPS and SSR provides additional flexibility and protection for Ethiopian nationals in the United States while Ethiopia is in crisis.
“We urge the administration to continue to use TPS and SSR together to provide protection for individuals whose home countries are in crisis,” the statement continued.
The DHS said its decision to take action was due to the current crisis in Ethiopia caused by the armed conflict in multiple regions of the country resulting in large-scale displacement of civilians.