Presidents’ Alliance Applauds Humanitarian Flexibility for Ethiopian International Students


December 12, 2022
CONTACT: Diego Sánchez (

Washington, D.C.— The Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration applauds the administration for opening Special Student Relief (SSR) to the over 2,000 Ethiopian international students currently studying in U.S. colleges and universities. SSR provides essential flexibility to international students whose home countries are in crisis, allowing them to continue their education and work and live in the United States. 

Secretary Mayorkas’ decision to suspend certain regulatory requirements for the F-1 nonimmigrant students from Ethiopia means that students experiencing severe hardship as a direct result of the crises in Ethiopia can request employment authorization to work off-campus, be exempt from the regular student employment requirements, and reduce their course loads if needed. Ethiopia was also recently designated for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), providing protection from deportation and permission to work for Ethiopians living in the United States. Pairing TPS and SSR provides additional flexibility and protection for Ethiopian nationals in the United States while Ethiopia is in crisis. We urge the administration to continue to use TPS and SSR together to provide protection for individuals whose home countries are in crisis.  

Jill Welch, Senior Policy Advisor to the Presidents’ Alliance, stated: “Extending these protections and flexibility to Ethiopians living in the United States is vital to the U.S. humanitarian response for Ethiopia. Ethiopian international students need the flexibility to drop a class or work off-campus as they and their families face the financial hardship brought on by the humanitarian crisis back home.”


The nonpartisan, nonprofit Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration brings college and university presidents and chancellors together on the immigration issues that impact higher education, our students, campuses, communities and nation. We work to advance just, forward-looking immigration policies and practices at the federal, state, and campus levels that are consistent with our heritage as a nation of immigrants and the academic values of equity and openness. The Alliance is composed of over 550 presidents and chancellors of public and private colleges and universities, enrolling over five million students in 43 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico.