DED for Palestinians: USCIS Announces Employment Authorization Procedures, Eligibility Requirements, in Federal Register Notice

On February 14, 2024, President Biden announced an 18-month Program of deferred enforced departure (DED) for Palestinians in the United States. The executive action was taken to provide some relief to persons in the United States who are facing deteriorated humanitarian conditions in Palestine due to military actions by Israel which prevent the safe return of civilians. Today, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a Federal Register notice explaining the eligibility requirements and establishing procedures for Palestinians covered by DED to apply for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) that will be valid through August 13, 2025, as well as procedures to apply for travel authorization. The USCIS website has also been updated to reflect Palestinians as a DED covered population. Accompanying this announcement is a Special Student Relief notice for Palestinian F-1 nonimmigrant students so that eligible students may request employment authorization, work an increased number of hours while school is in session, and reduce their course load while continuing to maintain F-1 status through the DED period.

What is DED?

DED is an administrative deferral of removal ordered by the President. The authority to extend DED arises from the President’s constitutional authority to conduct the foreign relations of the United States. DED has been authorized in situations where certain groups of noncitizens may face danger if required to return to countries or any part of such foreign countries experiencing political instability, conflict, or other unsafe conditions, or when there are other foreign policy reasons for allowing a designated group of noncitizens to remain in the United States temporarily.

Although DED is not a specific immigration status and does not require an application to be filed with USCIS, individuals covered by DED are not subject to removal from the United States, usually for a designated period. Furthermore, the President may direct that the Secretary of Homeland Security provide that certain benefits that are authorized under the immigration laws, such as employment authorization, be made available to the noncitizens covered by the DED directive during the designated period.

Since DED is a directive to defer removal of an individual, rather than a specific immigration status like Temporary Protected Status (TPS), there is no DED application form required for an individual to be covered by DED. If an individual covered by DED wants to apply for an EAD, they must file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. Similarly, should an individual covered by DED want to apply for advance travel authorization, they must file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.

Important Takeaways

  • Who is covered by this DED directive?
    • Non-U.S. citizens of any nationality, or without nationality, who are Palestinian, regardless of place of birth or country or area of last habitual residence, who have resided in the United States since February 14, 2024
  • What documentation will be accepted to establish that someone is Palestinian?
    • Any authentic document, regardless of validity period or expiration, indicating the applicant is Palestinian, including, but not limited to:
      • 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;
      • an 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; or
      • a travel document issued by a third country, the United Nations, its specialized agencies and related organizations, or the International Committee of the Red Cross, identifying the holder as a Palestinian.
  • Who is not eligible for employment authorization?
    • You are ineligible if you:
      • Have voluntarily returned to the Palestinian Territories after February 14, 2024;
      • Have not continuously resided in the United States since February 14, 2024;
      • Are inadmissible under INA § 212(a)(3) or deportable under INA § 237(a)(4);
      • Have been convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States, or who meet any of the criteria set forth in INA § 208(b)(2)(A);
      • Are subject to extradition;
      • Are someone whose presence in the United States the Secretary of Homeland Security has determine to be not in the interest of the United States or presents a danger to public safety; or
      • Are someone whose presence in the United States the Secretary of State has reasonable grounds to believe would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences for the United States.