DHS Extends and Redesignates Syria for Temporary Protected States; Expands Employment Options for Syrian F-1 Students
The Department of Homeland Security has extended and redesignated Syria for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), from October 1, 2022 through March 31, 2024. The initial registration period for new TPS applicants will run from August 1, 2022 to March 31, 2024. Eligible individuals will also be able to apply for TPS-related employment authorization documents (EADs) and travel permission during this time. Current Syrian TPS beneficiaries who wish to extend their benefits will be required to re-register by September 30, 2022. Those whose EADs expire on September 30, 2022 or certain specified earlier dates will receive an automatic extension through September 30, 2023. DHS has also announced that it will suspend certain employment authorization rules for Syrian students in F-1 status who are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the civil war in Syria.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has extended and redesignated Syria for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, from October 1, 2022 through March 31, 2024, according to a notice published in today’s Federal Register. Current Syrian TPS beneficiaries will have 60 days, from August 1, 2022 through September 30, 2022, to request an 18-month extension of status and work authorization. New applicants will have from August 1, 2022 through March 31, 2024 to apply for TPS status and related employment authorization documents (EADs) and travel permission.
DHS has determined that conditions in Syria warrant continued and renewed Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the country’s citizens in the United States. The ongoing armed conflict and other extraordinary conditions that prompted Syria’s initial TPS designation continue to pose a serious threat to the personal safety of its nationals should they be required to return to Syria.
Relatedly, DHS is also suspending certain employment authorization rules for Syrian citizens in F-1 status who are experiencing severe economic hardship due to the civil war in Syria.
TPS eligibility and application process for new applicants
Newly eligible Syrian nationals can apply for TPS if they can demonstrate continuous residence in the United States since July 28, 2022, and continuous physical presence in the United States since October 1, 2022. 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) during the initial registration period, which runs from August 1, 2022 through March 31, 2024. 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. TPS and its related work authorization will be approved with a March 31, 2024 expiration date.
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.
Re-registration process for current TPS holders
Current Syrian TPS beneficiaries can continue to extend their status and work authorization provided that they previously registered for TPS under the designation of Syria 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 Syria.
- When to re-register: Current Syrian TPS beneficiaries must submit Form I-821 to USCIS between August 1, 2022 and September 30, 2022.
- Extending employment authorization: Beneficiaries who wish to extend their employment authorization must also submit a timely Form I-765 application for an employment authorization document (EAD) and the applicable fees (or a fee waiver application).
- Pending TPS and/or EAD applications from prior registration period: There is no need for a foreign national with a pending TPS and/or EAD application to file a second application in order to benefit from the extension. For applications that are pending when the re-registration period begins on August 1, approval notices and document expiration dates will reflect the latest expiration date of March 31, 2024.
- Automatic EAD extensions: As DHS recognizes that re-registrants may not receive new EADs before their current cards expire, DHS is providing an automatic extension, through September 30, 2023, for EADs bearing a Category code of A-12 or C-19 and an expiration date of either: September 30, 2022; March 31, 2021; September 30, 2019; or March 31, 2018. The August 1, 2022 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 Syrian students in F-1 status
Separately, Syrian citizens in lawful F-1 status will benefit from relaxed employment authorization rules if they are experiencing severe economic hardship due to the civil war in Syria. 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 Syria (or individuals having no nationality who last habitually resided in Syria);
- Are lawfully present in the United States if F-1 status on August 1, 2022;
- 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 civil war in Syria.
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 apply for an EAD but do require DSO authorization.
DHS first announced special accommodations for Syrian F-1 students in 2012, and this is the seventh extension of these accommodations. This latest extension is to take effect on October 1, 2022 and will remain in effect until April 1, 2024.
The extension and redesignation of TPS for Syria means that beneficiaries who submit a timely application and receive an approval may continue to work and remain in the United States through March 31, 2024. Prior to the conclusion of the 18-month extension, DHS will review conditions to determine whether its TPS designation should be extended again or terminated. Syrian citizens in F-1 status should contact their school’s DSO to determine whether they can avail themselves of the relaxed employment authorization standards.