On August 5, 2021, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas announced that President Joe Biden had issued a memorandum directing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to defer the removal of Hong Kong residents presently in the United States. Specifically, President Biden cited the “significant erosion” of fundamental freedoms and human rights by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as the reason that a grant of Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) was necessary.
DED is a discretionary grant of protection that can be issued only by a president as part of the constitutional power to conduct foreign relations. It is used in very limited instances. Individuals covered by DED are not subject to removal for a certain period of time and typically may request employment authorization during the designation period. In addition to Hong Kong, DED is currently available to residents of Liberia and Venezuela.
According to the Presidential Memorandum, residents of Hong Kong who meet certain criteria—including not being inadmissible, not having been convicted of certain crimes, and not presenting a danger to the U.S. or its foreign policy interests—are eligible to apply for DED. Such individuals must continuously reside in the U.S. from August 5, 2021, and they are eligible to apply for work authorization in conjunction with the grant of DED.
A forthcoming Federal Register notice will provide instructions on how to apply for DED protection and employment authorization. Individuals who believe they may qualify for the benefit are encouraged to consult with a T&S professional.