Not a bad move by the DHS. As the international community cracks down on the currently seated Syrian government, the ripple effects of nonmilitary sanctions have hit the pocketbooks of the Syrian people. Many of those affected include the families of F-1 nonimmigrant students now living and studying in the U.S. With funds cut short from home, many of these Syrian students are having difficulty paying their rent and eating, much less paying for textbooks. The DHS has taken some action to relieve the financial crunch.
Recently, the Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary announced that the DHS has suspended some of the regulatory requirements for Syrian F-1 nonimmigrant students. In particular, the announcement appears to be the result of severe economic hardship experienced by Syrians as a result of the civil unrest in their country.
The slackening of requirements is aimed at helping Syrian F-1 nonimmigrant students to pursue employment authorization, work increased hours while in school in the U.S., and reduce course load while maintaining F-1 status.
For example, Syrian F-1 nonimmigrant students may be qualified as taking a full course of study despite only satisfying a minimum course load requirement, provided that such students are working instead.
To review the legal foundation of the DHS decision, you should check out 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(F) or visit the ICE website.
If you are a Syrian F-1 student and want to apply for the above program, please make sure that you are presently enrolled in a SEVP certified school; that your F-1 status is current; and put together some paperwork that may indicate the economic hardship you are facing due to the civil unrest back home.
Most immigration attorneys will provide a consultation free or for a limited fee to discuss your case in more detail.