DHS Extends and Redesignates Somalia for Temporary Protected Status; Expands Employment Options for Somali F-1 Students
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has extended and redesignated Somalia for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), from March 18, 2023 to September 17, 2024. The registration period for new TPS applicants will run from March 13, 2023 to September 17, 2024. Eligible individuals will also be able to apply for TPS-related employment authorization documents (EADs) and travel permission during this time. Current Somali TPS beneficiaries who wish to extend their benefits will be required to re-register between March 13, 2023 and May 12, 2023. Those whose current EADs will expire before receiving a new one will receive an automatic extension through March 17, 2024. DHS has also announced that it will suspend certain employment authorization rules for Somali students in F-1 status who are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the crisis in Somalia.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has extended and redesignated Somalia for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, from March 18, 2023 through September 17, 2024, according to a Federal Register notice. Current Somali TPS beneficiaries will have 60 days, from March 13, 2023 through May 12, 2023, to request an 18-month extension of status and work authorization. New applicants will have from March 13, 2023 through September 17, 2024, to file for TPS status and for related employment authorization documents (EADs) and travel permission.
DHS has determined that conditions in Somalia warrant continued and renewed Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The ongoing armed conflict, along with climate, health, food safety, and humanitarian challenges have worsened the already severe humanitarian crisis that prompted Somalia’s initial TPS designation. The agency has determined that current conditions prevent Somali nationals from returning to Somalia safely.
Relatedly, DHS is also suspending certain employment authorization rules for Somali citizens in F-1 status who are experiencing severe economic hardship due to the current crisis in Somalia.
TPS eligibility and application process for new applicants
Somali nationals can apply for this designation if they have continuously resided in the United States since January 11, 2023, and have been continuously physically present in the United States since March 18, 2023. Applicants must file a Form I-821 application with appropriate fees (or request for fee waiver) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within the redesignation period from March 13, 2023 through September 17, 2024. Applicants may also apply for EADs and for travel authorization during this time, by submitting the corresponding forms and fees or fee waiver request.
All individuals applying for TPS undergo security and background checks as part of determining eligibility. Biometrics collection (fingerprinting) is generally required for applicants ages 14 and older.
Re-registration process for current TPS holders
Current Somali TPS beneficiaries can continue to extend their status and work authorization provided that they previously registered for TPS under the designation of Somalia and their application was granted.
- Who may re-register: Re-registration is limited to those who previously registered for and were granted TPS under the designation for Somalia.
- When to register: Current Somali TPS beneficiaries must submit Form I-821 to USCIS between March 13, 2023 and May 12, 2023.
- Extending employment authorization: Beneficiaries who wish to extend their employment authorization for 18 months must also submit a timely Form I-765 application for an employment authorization document (EAD) and the applicable fees (or a fee waiver application).
- Automatic EAD extensions: DHS is providing an automatic extension, through March 17, 2024, for EADs bearing an expiration date of March 17, 2023 or September 17, 2021 and an A-12 or C-19 category.
- Pending TPS and/or EAD applications from prior registration period: If a previously filed application is approved, approval notices and document expiration dates will reflect the latest expiration date of September 17, 2024. There is no need for a foreign national to file either application again in order to benefit from the extension. The Federal Register notice provides specific instructions on proper completion of an I-9 form to reflect an automatically extended TPS EAD.
Relaxed employment authorization rules for certain Somali students in F-1 status
Separately, Somali citizens in lawful F-1 student status will benefit from relaxed employment authorization rules if they are experiencing severe economic hardship due to the Somali 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 citizens of Somalia (or have no nationality and last habitually resided in Somalia);
- Are lawfully present in the United States in F-1 status on March 13, 2023;
- Are enrolled in an academic institution that is Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified for F-1 student;
- Are currently maintaining F-1 status; and
- Are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the current crisis in Somalia.
F-1 students who receive authorization from their Designated School Official (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.
The extension and redesignation of TPS for Somalia means that beneficiaries who submit a timely application and receive an approval may continue to work and remain in the United States through September 17, 2024. Prior to the conclusion of the 18-month extension, the DHS Secretary will review conditions to determine whether Somalia’s TPS designation should be extended again. Somali 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.