ICE recently announced that it will be providing special relief for certain F-1 Haitian students who have suffered severe economic hardship as a result of the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti. This relief applies only to students who are lawfully present in the United States in F-1 status on January 12, 2010 and who were enrolled in a college or university participating in the ICE’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).

The special relief provides suspension of certain regulatory requirements for Haitian F-1 students to obtain employment authorization, work more than 20 hours a week during the school term and, if necessary, reduce their course load while continuing to maintain their F-1 status. Eligible F-1 students granted employment authorization through the special relief will be deemed to be engaged in the full course of study if they meet the minimum course load requirements, which for undergraduate students is a minimum of six semester/quarter hours of instruction per academic year and for graduate students is a minimum of three semester/quarter hours of instruction per academic year. Additionally, eligible Haitian F-1 students granted on-campus or off-campus employment authorization pursuant to the special relief may count up to the equivalent of one class (or three credits) per term of online or distance education towards satisfying the minimum course load requirement.

Eligible Haitian F-1 students should contact their school’s international office if they would like to take advantage of this special relief. The special relief will remain in effect only until July 22, 2011.