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DHS Announces Details on Deferred Enforced Departure for Palestinians

Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Palestinians will be valid for an 18-month period, from February 14, 2024 until August 13, 2025. During this period, eligible Palestinians will be protected from removal and may apply for employment or travel authorization. Palestinian F-1 students will also benefit from relaxed employment rules.

A closer look

Following President Biden’s recent designation of Palestinians for Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a Federal Register Notice with details on the scope of the DED declaration. The DED period will run for 18 months, from February 14, 2024 (the date of Present Biden’s announcement) until August 13, 2025. Palestinians benefiting from DED are now eligible to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), valid until August 13, 2025, and may also seek advance parole travel authorization.

Background on DED and its related benefits

Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) is not a specific immigration status, but rather is a discretionary grant of protection that can be issued only by a president as part of their constitutional power to conduct foreign relations. It is used in very limited instances.

Individuals covered by DED are not subject to removal from the United States for a certain period of time. Since DED is a directive to defer removal of a defined class of individuals, rather than a specific immigration status, there is no DED application form required for an individual to be covered by DED. Individuals covered by DED who wish to work must apply for an EAD work permit, however.

In addition to Palestinians, DED is currently available to residents of Hong Kong and Liberian nationals.

Individuals covered by Palestinian DED

The DED declaration covers eligible Palestinians – regardless of place of birth or country of last habitual residence – who were present in the United States on February 14, 2024 and who have continuously resided in the United States since that date. Covered Palestinians may be of any nationality or stateless.

For purposes of assessing DED eligibility, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will determine whether an individual is Palestinian based on acceptable documentation (whether valid or expired) indicating that the individual is Palestinian. Examples of acceptable documentation include the following:

  • a Palestinian Authority Passport;
  • a Palestinian Authority Identification Card;
  • a Birth Certificate or Birth Extract verified or issued by a recognized governmental authority identifying the holder as having been born in the Palestinian Territories; or
  • a travel document or other identification document issued by a third country, the United Nations, its specialized agencies and related organizations, or the International Committee of the Red Cross, indicating the holder is a Palestinian.

Individuals not covered

Individuals will not benefit from Palestinian DED protection if any of the following apply:

  • they were not present in the United States on February 14, 2024;
  • they have not continuously resided in the United States since February 14, 2024;
  • they have voluntarily returned to the Palestinian Territories after February 14, 2024;
  • they are inadmissible or removable under certain security-related grounds;
  • they have been convicted of a felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States;
  • they are subject to extradition, or to certain statutory bars to asylum;
  • DHS has determined that their presence in the United States is not in the U.S. interest or presents a danger to public safety; or
  • The U.S. Department of State has reasonable grounds to believe that their presence in the United States would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences.

Relaxed employment authorization rules for certain Palestinian students in F-1 status

In a related action, DHS is relaxing employment authorization rules for Palestinians in lawful F-1 student status who are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the current humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian Territories.

Eligible students can request employment authorization, work an increased number of hours while school is in session, and reduce their course load, while continuing to maintain a “full course of study” designation. As with DED, the relaxed rules for Palestinian F-1 students will be in effect from February 14, 2024 until August 13, 2025.

To qualify, F-1 students must establish that they:

  • possess acceptable documentation indicating that they are Palestinian (including any of the documentation acceptable for DED eligibility listed above);
  • were lawfully present in the United States in F-1 status on February 14, 2024;
  • are enrolled in an academic institution that is Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified;
  • are currently maintaining F-1 status; and
  • are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the current humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian Territories.

F-1 students who receive authorization from their Designated School Officer (DSO) to work off-campus must apply for an EAD by submitting the required application form and corresponding fee (or fee waiver request). F-1 students who will be working on-campus do not need to file for an EAD but do require DSO authorization. 

What this means for foreign nationals

Palestinians who believe they are eligible for DED and wish to work in the United States are encouraged to apply for employment authorization. Palestinians in F-1 status should reach out to their school’s DSO to determine whether they can avail themselves of the relaxed employment authorization standards.

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