Certain Hong Kong Residents Qualify for Deferred Enforced Departure

Certain Hong Kong Residents Qualify for Deferred Enforced Departure

The President has recently granted certain residents of Hong Kong deferred enforced departure (DED) for a period of 18 months which will end on February 5th, 2023. This order also directed government agencies to issue instructions for how to apply for employment authorization. A DED is an administrative stay on forced removal and is typically used as a humanitarian tool for foreign nationals that could be in danger if they were forced to return to an area that is facing unsafe conditions such as instability or violent conflict. This allows such individuals to stay for at least a time and potentially seek more permanent arrangements to avoid returning to their place of origin.

In this case, those seeking to qualify for a Hong Kong DED must hold certain valid documents and qualifications. These items include, among certain others:

  • Valid Identifying Document: These documents could include a Hong Kong Permanent Identity card, a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Document of Identity for Visa Purposes, a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Passport, or a British National Overseas Passport.
  • Residence Requirement: Those seeking a DED must have resided in the United States continuously starting from August 5th, 2021. Additionally, they must not have at any point voluntarily returned to either the People’s Republic of China or Hong Kong itself since this date.

In order to qualify for DED, those eligible will not fill out any special form. They will, however, need to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). In order to do this, an applicant will start by filing an Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765). Here they will use category (a)(11) to indicate their eligibility for DED. Along with the form, they will need to submit the needed documentation, which is indicated upon the form. They will also need to either pay the $410 fee or request a waiver from the fee. The USCIS will follow up and notify an applicant if they require any biometrics. 

Additionally, DED beneficiaries do have the option of applying for travel authorization as well, which will be granted at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security, and this will be done through filing a Form I-131 with the USCIS and can be done simultaneously to a Form I-765.

Notably, EADs, including any that are issued subsequent to DED, are regarded as List A Documents for Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification. Employers must remember this when determining eligibility for employment in the US. This goes to show that managing Form I-9 can be challenging, particularly with all of the confusion added by recent events. With the ongoing difficulties caused by the pandemic, it may even seem unmanageable, but an electronic I-9 management tool can make the process a whole lot easier. With a standard, easy-to-use process to guide you through all the necessary steps, you can ensure your documents are consistently and correctly filled out each time and maintained for as long as they are needed.