On Sept. 9, 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) extended the suspension of certain requirements for F-1 students with Syrian citizenship who can demonstrate severe economic hardship resulting from Syria’s continuing civil unrest. The notice also extends the effective date of the previously announced authorization period through March 31, 2018 and expands the application of the suspension to Syrian nationals who lawfully obtained F-1 status between the date of the original notice and Sept. 9, 2016.

The agency’s action, which is expected to affect approximately 700 individuals, applies exclusively to F–1 students of Syrian citizenship who were lawfully present in the United States in F–1 status on or after April 3, 2012, through Sept. 9, 2016, under section 101(a)(15)(F)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(F)(i); and who are:

(1) Enrolled in an institution that is Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified for the enrollment of F–1 students;

(2) Currently maintaining F–1 status; and

(3) Experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the ongoing civil unrest in Syria since March 2011.

Importantly, this policy, which enables eligible F-1 students to receive employment authorization, work an increased number of during in-session periods of schooling, and reduce the minimum number of courses required to validly maintain F-1 status, applies to undergraduate and graduate students, as well as to elementary school, middle school, and high school students, with additional requirements.