President Biden Offers Hong Kong Residents in the United States Protection from Removal and Work Authorization for 18 months

On Thursday (August 5, 2021) President Biden issued a memorandum directing Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for “certain Hong Kong residents” who are present in the US. DED will be available to residents of Hong Kong who were present in the United States on August 5, 2021 and remain continuously present in the US since August 5, 2021. President Biden stated that his decision was in response to China’s imposition of its National Security Law in Hong Kong, which has threatened the rights and fundamental freedoms of Hong Kong residents.

What Is DED?

DED is a temporary form of relief from removal (deportation) that is granted by the United States president. The president’s DED memorandum for Hong Kong residents states that the DED period will be for 18 months. During the 18-month DED period, qualifying Hong Kong residents in the United States will be not be removed (deported) from the United States and will be able to apply for employment authorization from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). However, qualifying for DED is not the same as having a visa or other lawful immigration status in the US.

Currently, besides Hong Kong, the other countries with DED are Venezuela and Liberia.

Who Qualifies for DED for Hong Kong residents?

Subject to the exceptions listed below, the memorandum defers the deportation of any Hong Kong resident who is present in the United States as of August 5, 2021 and continues to be present in the United States.

Who Does Not Qualify for DED for Hong Kong residents?

The following Hong Kong residents are NOT eligible for DED:

  • Individuals who have voluntarily returned to Hong Kong or China after August 5, 2021
    • Individuals who have not continuously resided in the United States since August 5, 2021;
    • Individuals who are “inadmissible” to the US because of national security or terrorism grounds or who are “removable” from the US because of national security, terrorism, or related grounds;
    • Individuals who have been convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the US;
    • Individuals who would be barred from receiving asylum due to criminal, terrorism, or related grounds;
    • Individuals who are subject to extradition from the US;
    • Individuals who the US government believes should not be permitted to remain in the US; individuals who pose a threat to public safety; and individuals whose presence in the US will negatively affect the United States’ relations with other countries.

What Now? 

The DED period for Hong Kong residents will be for 18 months, and Hong Kong residents in the US who qualify for DED will be able to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Also, the rules for employment for F-1 students in the US who are Hong Kong residents may become more flexible.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is expected to publish more details and instructions for how to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) under DED soon.  Hong Kong residents qualifying for DED who wish to apply for employment authorization should check www.usics.gov for updated information about how to apply for employment authorization under the DED program.

It remains to be seen how DHS will define a “Hong Kong resident” for the purposes of DED.

Please check back for updates as further details are published about the DED program for Hong Kong residents.

 

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