President Joe Biden has authorized thousands of Hong Kong residents currently residing in the United States to remain in the country pursuant to Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for up to 18 months. In addition, he authorized employment for covered Hong Kong residents and the relaxation of employment rules for F-1 students from Hong Kong.

DED is not a specific immigration status, but a humanitarian measure that exempts certain individuals from removal for a designated time period. DED is fully within the president’s discretion to authorize. Currently, there are two other countries with DED designation: Liberia and Venezuela. Venezuela also carries the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation.

Eligibility requirements for Hong Kong DED include the following:

  • The applicant must have continuously resided in the United States since August 5, 2021; and
  • The applicant cannot have voluntarily returned to Hong Kong or the People’s Republic of China (PRC) after August 5, 2021.

President Biden authorized DED in recognition of “the significant erosion of . . . rights and freedoms in Hong Kong by the People’s Republic of China” and stated that “[t]he United States will not waver in our support of people in Hong Kong.”

DED is a temporary measure, but a State Department representative has noted that Hong Kongers could still be referred for consideration as refugees. Since the PRC’s crackdown in Hong Kong, other countries have already offered certain immigration benefits. Britain created a new visa that could lead to citizenship. Canada and Australia have also started to facilitate immigration and permanent residency.

More information on how to apply for Hong Kong DED should be forthcoming in the Federal Register. Applicants should review that notice before attempting to apply for DED.