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DHS Designates Burma (Myanmar) for TPS; Expands Employment Options for Burmese F-1 students

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas has designated Burma (Myanmar) for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, from May 25, 2021 through November 25, 2022. According to a Federal Register notice that will be published tomorrow, the designation will permit eligible Burmese nationals and those who last habitually resided in Burma to file for TPS status and for related employment authorization documents (EADs) and travel permission. According to DHS, the designation is due to the severe political unrest, increase in human rights violations and growing humanitarian crisis following a February 2021 military coup over the country’s democratically elected government.

Relatedly, Secretary Mayorkas also announced today that DHS is suspending certain employment authorization rules for Burmese citizens in F-1 status who are experiencing severe economic hardship due to the current crisis in Burma. 

TPS eligibility and application process

Burmese nationals who can demonstrate continuous residence in the United States since March 11, 2021, and who have been continuously physically present in the United States since May 25, 2021, are eligible for TPS under Burma’s new designation. Applicants must file a Form I-821 application with appropriate fee(s) (or request for fee waiver) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within the 180-day registration period from May 25, 2021 through November 22, 2021.  Applicants may also apply for EADs and for travel authorization during this time, by submitting the corresponding forms and fee(s) or fee waiver request.

All individuals applying for TPS undergo security and background checks as part of determining eligibility. Biometrics collection (fingerprints) is generally required for applicants ages 14 and older.

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

Separately, Burmese citizens in lawful F-1 student status will benefit from relaxed employment authorization rules if they are experiencing severe economic hardship due to the Burmese crisis.  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. To qualify, F-1 students must establish that they:

  • Are Burmese citizens;
  • Were lawfully present in the United States in F-1 status on May 25, 2021;
  • 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 crisis in Burma. 

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

Looking ahead

Burmese nationals who believe they qualify for TPS should file their applications quickly to take advantage of this benefit and obtain employment authorization as quickly as possible.  Burmese citizens 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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