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US increases work rights for Nepalese students

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement is easing visa restrictions during 2016 for Nepalese students facing severe economic hardship as a result of the earthquake in May, enabling them to work an increased number of hours while studying and reduce their course load where applicable.

Specialist search and rescue equipment arrives in Kathmandu, Nepal after the earthquake earlier this year. Photo: Deepti Soni/FCO.

There are currently more than 9,000 F-1 students from Nepal enrolled in US education institutions

The suspension of regulatory requirements will only apply to students who were studying on an F-1 visa in the US on June 24, 2015, following the earthquake that resulted in 8,000 fatalities, displaced 2.8 million people and critically damaged the nation’s economy.

“The widespread disaster has made it unfeasible for many students to safely return to Nepal for the foreseeable future”

At present, F-1 students in the US may work no more than 20 hours a week during term time, and the work must be on campus.

There are currently more than 9,000 F-1 students from Nepal enrolled in US education institutions.

Under the suspension, Nepalese citizens will be able to apply for employment authorisation, enabling them to work off-campus and for a greater number of hours while maintaining their F-1 visa status.

They may also be able to reduce their course load where eligible in order to balance their studies and work.

The suspension aims to provide relief to students who might otherwise be unable to continue their studies in the US or even afford basic living expenses due to the disaster, ICE said.

“The ability for Nepalese students who have suffered the economic hardship from the earthquake in Nepal to seek additional employment will permit them to focus on their education in the United States while easing the worry of a financial burden,” said Louis Farrell, director for the Student and Exchange Visitor Program.

“The widespread disaster has made it unfeasible for many students to safely return to Nepal for the foreseeable future,” an ICE spokesperson added.

Students must apply for the suspension by December 21, and it will last until December 24, 2016.

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