A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration lawyer. We serve clients in all U.S. states and overseas countries. (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

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Monday, May 8, 2023

DED & EAD Extended for Hong Kong Residents and Students

The change in Hong Kong's political climate has created uncertainty for many of its residents. If you are a Hong Kong resident in the U.S., there is a good chance you already qualify for deferred departure and can apply for an EAD. On January 26, 2023, President Joe Biden issued a memorandum expanding Deferred Enforced Departure for eligible Hong Kong residents in the United States. These residents can stay in the U.S. through February 5, 2025 and are eligible for work authorization. 

Hong Kong Residents Allowed to Stay in the U.S. under DED

Below are the requirements for a Hong Kong resident to be covered by DED:

1) The resident must have continuously been in the United States since January 26, 2023. Note however that Hong Kong nationals covered under DED can still travel to most countries if they file Form I-131 for an advanced parole document and it is approved.

2) Have NOT voluntarily travelled to Hong Kong or China since January 26, 2023.

3) Must NOT be inadmissible under INA, convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States, or subject to extradition.

4) Must NOT be a foreign threat or a danger to public safety as determined by Secretary of State and Secretary of Homeland Security.

Hong Kong Residents Allowed to Apply for Work Authorization

Getting the DED-based work authorization is not automatic and requires action. Applicants must file Form I-765 and have it approved to receive their EAD. 

The extension on work authorization is automatic for Hong Kong nationals that already have an EAD of A-11 category and with an expiration date of February 5, 2023. Such EAD holders do not need to file anything. However, there is also the option for them to file Form I-765 to get an updated EAD reflecting the February 5, 2025 expiration date. It is not necessary, but having the updated document can help avoid delays and misunderstandings over work authorization-related processing. 

Hong Kong nationals in the U.S. unsure if they fit the criteria for DED should consult with an experienced immigration lawyer before extending their stay or applying for the EAD.

Hong Kong F-1 Students Benefits

Additionally, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced on May 4, 2023, new benefits for F-1 international students from Hong Kong who were in lawful F-1 nonimmigrant student status as of January 26, 2023.  These students may request employment authorization documents based on hardship, work an increased number of hours while school is in session, and reduce their course loads without violating their F-1 status if they maintain certain minimum course loads as follows:

- Undergraduate students who receive work authorization must remain registered for a minimum of six semester or quarter hours of instruction per academic term. 

- Undergraduate students enrolled in a term of different duration must register for at least one half of the credit hours normally required under a ‘‘full course of study.’’ 

- Graduate students who receive employment authorization under this notice must remain registered for a minimum of three semester or quarter hours of instruction per academic term. 

- Students (either undergraduate or graduate) granted employment authorization may count up to the equivalent of one class or three credits per session, term, semester, trimester, or quarter of online or distance education toward satisfying this minimum course load requirement.

(Immigration laws and policies change regularly.  If you have any questions regarding this article, please visit www.1visa1.com to schedule a legal consultation.)  

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