Employment Authorization for South Sudanese F-1 Nonimmigrant Students Experiencing Severe Economic Hardship as a Direct Result of the Current Humanitarian Crisis in South Sudan, 12182-12189 [2022-04570]

Download as PDF 12182 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 42 / Thursday, March 3, 2022 / Notices DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Institutes of Health Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health; Notice of Closed Meeting Center for Scientific Review; Notice of Closed Meetings Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended, notice is hereby given of the following meeting. The meeting will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES Name of Committee: Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (ORIP) Special Emphasis Panel: Applications for Scientific Conferences. Date: April 6, 2022. Time: 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications. Place: National Institutes of Health, Rockledge II, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892 (Virtual Meeting). Contact Person: Kenneth Ryan, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 3218, MSC 7717, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301–435– 0229, kenneth.ryan@nih.hhs.gov. (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.14, Intramural Research Training Award; 93.22, Clinical Research Loan Repayment Program for Individuals from Disadvantaged Backgrounds; 93.232, Loan Repayment Program for Research Generally; 93.39, Academic Research Enhancement Award; 93.936, NIH Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome Research Loan Repayment Program; 93.187, Undergraduate Scholarship Program for Individuals from Disadvantaged Backgrounds, National Institutes of Health, HHS) Dated: February 25, 2022. Miguelina Perez, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy. [FR Doc. 2022–04424 Filed 3–2–22; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140–01–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:23 Mar 02, 2022 Jkt 256001 Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended, notice is hereby given of the following meetings. The meetings will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Member Conflict: Clinical Neuroplasticity and Neurotransmitters. Date: March 23, 2022. Time: 12:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications. Place: National Institutes of Health, Rockledge II, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892 (Virtual Meeting). Contact Person: Cristina Backman, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, ETTN IRG, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 5211, MSC 7846, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301–480– 9069, cbackman@mail.nih.gov. Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Member Conflict: Glioma, Multiple Sclerosis, and Neuroinflammation. Date: March 25, 2022. Time: 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications. Place: National Institutes of Health, Rockledge II, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892 (Virtual Meeting). Contact Person: Samuel C. Edwards, Ph.D., Chief, BDCN IRG, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 5210, MSC 7846, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 435–1246, edwardss@csr.nih.gov. Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Topics in Alzheimer’s Disease, Mild Cognitive Impairment and Cognitive Aging. Date: March 25, 2022. Time: 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications. Place: National Institutes of Health, Rockledge II, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892 (Virtual Meeting). Contact Person: Maribeth Champoux, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of PO 00000 Frm 00109 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 3170, MSC 7848, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301–594– 3163, champoum@csr.nih.gov. Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; PAR 19– 232: NIGMS Mature Synchrotron Resources for Structural Biology (P50). Date: March 29, 2022. Time: 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications. Place: National Institutes of Health, Rockledge II, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892 (Virtual Meeting). Contact Person: Nuria E. Assa-Munt, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4164, MSC 7806, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301)451– 1323, assamunu@csr.nih.gov. Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; RFA–HD– 22–008: Autism Centers of Excellence: Centers (P50). Date: March 30–31, 2022. Time: 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications. Place: National Institutes of Health, Rockledge II, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892 (Virtual Meeting). Contact Person: Alok Mulky, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4203, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 435–3566, mulkya@mail.nih.gov. (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.306, Comparative Medicine; 93.333, Clinical Research, 93.306, 93.333, 93.337, 93.393–93.396, 93.837–93.844, 93.846–93.878, 93.892, 93.893, National Institutes of Health, HHS) Dated: February 25, 2022. Miguelina Perez, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy. [FR Doc. 2022–04426 Filed 3–2–22; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140–01–P DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement [Docket No. ICEB–2022–0003] RIN 1653–ZA24 Employment Authorization for South Sudanese F–1 Nonimmigrant Students Experiencing Severe Economic Hardship as a Direct Result of the Current Humanitarian Crisis in South Sudan U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: E:\FR\FM\03MRN1.SGM 03MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 42 / Thursday, March 3, 2022 / Notices This notice announces that the Secretary of Homeland Security (Secretary) is suspending certain regulatory requirements for F–1 nonimmigrant students whose country of citizenship is the Republic of South Sudan (South Sudan), regardless of country of birth (or individuals having no nationality who last habitually resided in South Sudan), and who are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. The Secretary is taking action to provide relief to these South Sudanese students who are lawful F–1 nonimmigrant students so the students may request employment authorization, work an increased number of hours while school is in session, and reduce their course load while continuing to maintain their F–1 nonimmigrant student status. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will deem an F–1 nonimmigrant student who receives employment authorization by means of this notice to be engaged in a ‘‘full course of study’’ for the duration of the employment authorization, if the nonimmigrant student satisfies the minimum course load requirement described in this notice. DATES: This F–1 notice is effective March 3, 2022, through November 3, 2023. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sharon Snyder, Unit Chief, Policy and Response Unit, Student and Exchange Visitor Program, MS 5600, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 500 12th Street SW, Washington, DC 20536–5600; email: sevp@ice.dhs.gov, telephone: (703) 603–3400. This is not a toll-free number. Program information can be found at https://www.ice.gov/ sevis/. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: What action is DHS taking under this notice? The Secretary is exercising his authority under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9) to temporarily suspend the applicability of certain requirements governing oncampus and off-campus employment for F–1 nonimmigrant students whose country of citizenship is South Sudan, regardless of country of birth (or individuals having no nationality who last habitually resided in South Sudan), who are present in the United States in lawful F–1 nonimmigrant student status on the date of publication of this notice, and who are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan due to many years of armed conflict leading to the destruction of people’s VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:23 Mar 02, 2022 Jkt 256001 livelihoods. Effective with this publication, suspension of the employment limitations is available through November 3, 2023, for those who are in lawful F–1 nonimmigrant status. DHS will deem an F–1 nonimmigrant student granted employment authorization through the notice to be engaged in a ‘‘full course of study’’ for the duration of the employment authorization, if the student satisfies the minimum course load set forth in this notice.1 See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(F). Who is covered by this notice? This notice applies exclusively to F– 1 nonimmigrant students who meet all of the following conditions: (1) Are a citizen of South Sudan regardless of country of birth (or an individual having no nationality who last habitually resided in South Sudan); (2) Were lawfully present in the United States in F–1 nonimmigrant status under section 101(a)(15)(F)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(F)(i), on the date of publication of this notice; (3) Are enrolled in an academic institution that is Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified for enrollment for F–1 nonimmigrant students; (4) Are maintaining F–1 nonimmigrant status; and (5) Are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. This notice applies to F–1 nonimmigrant students in an approved private school in kindergarten through grade 12, public school in grades 9 through 12, and undergraduate and graduate education. An F–1 nonimmigrant student covered by this notice who transfers to another SEVPcertified academic institution remains eligible for the relief provided by means of this notice. 1 Because the suspension of requirements under this notice applies throughout an academic term during which the suspension is in effect, DHS considers an F–1 nonimmigrant student who engages in a reduced course load or employment (or both) after this notice is effective to be engaging in a ‘‘full course of study,’’ see 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6), and eligible for employment authorization, through the end of any academic term for which such student is matriculated as of November 3, 2023, provided the student satisfies the minimum course load requirements in this notice. DHS also considers students who engage in online coursework pursuant to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID–19) guidance for nonimmigrant students to be in compliance with regulations while such guidance remains in effect. See ICE Guidance and Frequently Asked Questions on COVID–19, Nonimmigrant Students & SEVPCertified Schools: Frequently Asked Questions, https://www.ice.gov/coronavirus (last visited Feb. 2022). PO 00000 Frm 00110 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 12183 Why is DHS taking this action? DHS is taking action to provide relief to South Sudanese F–1 nonimmigrant students experiencing severe economic hardship as a result of the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. DHS has reviewed country conditions in South Sudan. Based on the review, including input received from the U.S. Department of State (DOS), DHS is taking action to allow eligible F–1 nonimmigrant students from South Sudan, to request employment authorization, work an increased number of hours while school is in session, and reduce their course load while continuing to maintain F–1 nonimmigrant student status. Since February 2020, limited implementation of the September 2018 Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict (R–ARCSS) ‘‘has hindered improvements in the protection of civilians and prospects for long-term peace’’ in South Sudan.2 Moreover, ongoing political disputes and disagreements between the two main signatories—the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), led by the President Salva Kiir Mayardit, and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-Army in Opposition (SPLM/ A–IO), led by the First Vice-President, Riek Machar Teny—‘‘has widened existing political, military and ethnic divisions in the country and has led to multiple incidents of violence’’ between the two parties.3 In addition, political divisions among the non-signatories 4 to the R–ARCSS have made it more difficult to negotiate a comprehensive peace.5 Moreover, the SPLM/A–IO has also begun to break apart and new splinter groups have formed,6 resulting in increased violence.7 In June 2021, the United Nations (UN) reported that ‘‘the overall 2 Rep. of the Panel of Experts on South Sudan (2020), transmitted by Letter dated 14 April 2021 from the Panel of Experts on South Sudan Established Pursuant to Resolution 2206 (2015) Concerning South Sudan to the President of the Security Council, at 2, UN Doc. S/2021/365 (Apr. 15, 2021) (hereinafter Panel of Experts on South Sudan). 3 Id. 4 Previously united under one umbrella group— the South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance— non-signatories of the R–ARCSS have divided into two factions, one led by General Thomas Cirillo Swaka, the leader of the National Salvation Front (NAS), and another led by General Pagan Amum and General Paul Malong Awan Anei. See id. at 9. 5 See id. 6 Id. at 11. 7 Dan Watson, Surface Tension: ‘Communal’ Violence and Elite Ambitions in South Sudan, Armed Conflict Location & Event Data, (Aug. 19, 2021). https://acleddata.com/2021/08/19/surfacetension-communal-violence-and-elite-ambitions-insouth-sudan/. E:\FR\FM\03MRN1.SGM 03MRN1 12184 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 42 / Thursday, March 3, 2022 / Notices khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES implementation of the R–ARCSS is progressing slowly.’’ 8 Political gridlock over implementation of the political and security aspects of the R–ARCSS have also contributed to insecurity in South Sudan.9 The UN further assessed that weak or absent State governance has allowed ‘‘perennial communal and ethnic cleavages,’’ while entrenched insecurity contributes to a vicious cycle of livestock raiding and subsequent food insecurity. A weakened rule of law and flagging economic conditions have resulted in increased criminality and the targeting of humanitarian workers.10 South Sudan continues to face increased violence 11 from government security forces and armed groups.12 In 2020, the United Nations (UN) and international organizations reported on ‘‘widespread killings, mutilations, and sexual violence, disproportionately committed by government forces but also by the National Salvation Front (NAS), a key opposition group.’’ 13 In February 2021, the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan noted that armed clashes at the local level also resulted in the mass displacement of the civilian population, particularly women and girls.14 Children are among those feeling the greatest impact of this violence, exposing them to protection risks and life-threatening diseases.15 Moreover, sexual violence—including rape, gang rape, abduction, sexual slavery, and sexual mutilation remain ‘‘consistent features of the conflict in South Sudan since 2013, and are now being replicated in conflict at the local level.’’ 16 8 UN Security Council, Marking a Decade of Independence, South Sudan Faces Slow Progress, Lingering Violence, Secretary-General’s Special Representative Tells Security Council, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Services, June 22, 2021. https://reliefweb.int/report/ south-sudan/marking-decade-independence-southsudan-faces-slow-progress-lingering-violence. 9 Panel of Experts on South Sudan, supra note 3, at 2. 10 Marking a Decade of Independence, South Sudan Faces Slow Progress, Lingering Violence, Secretary-General’s Special Representative Tells Security Council, supra. 11 Id. 12 Panel of Experts on South Sudan, supra note 3 at 15. 13 U.S. Dep’t of State, 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: South Sudan (Mar. 31, 2021). https://www.state.gov/reports/2020-countryreports-on-human-rights-practices/south-sudan/. 14 Rep. of the Comm. on Human Rights in South Sudan, at 14, UN Doc. A/HRC/46/53 (Feb. 4, 2021). https://www.ecoi.net/en/file/local/2046934/A_ HRC_46_53_E.pdf. 15 UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), South Sudan Humanitarian Situation Report No. 163: 1–30, UNICEF, Dec. 30, 2021, pg. 2. UNICEF South Sudan Humanitarian Situation Report No. 163: 1–30 November 2021—South Sudan | ReliefWeb. 16 Rep. of the Comm. on Human Rights in South Sudan, supra note 13, at 14. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:23 Mar 02, 2022 Jkt 256001 In addition, humanitarian organizations continue to face security and bureaucratic barriers that affect the delivery and access of humanitarian aid and pose ‘‘serious personal risks to aid workers.’’ 17 Access is difficult due to flooding, violence, and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19) restrictions. As a result, South Sudan is also facing ‘‘one of the direst food crises the country has faced since its independence in 2011.’’ 18 Moreover, chronic food shortages, a deepening economic crisis, insecurity, and limited agricultural production led to high levels of acute malnutrition.19 South Sudan’s health care infrastructure remains inadequate.20 Facilities are limited and often inaccessible and facing staffing shortages amongst ongoing insecurity and violence.21 The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) estimates that over 8 million people in South Sudan need humanitarian assistance and 2 million people are internally displaced. In addition, over 800,000 people have been affected by floods and more than 2 million are refugees in neighboring countries.22 The lack of adequate financial resources and logistical support for the unification, training, and deployment of the South Sudan armed forces, as outlined in the R–ARCSS, remains a significant security challenge.23 A key component of the R–ARCSS is the longterm garrisoning (cantonment), registration, screening, selection, training and redeployment of opposition forces and the creation of a unified army of 83,000 soldiers. South Sudanese military cantonment sites and training centers 24 have made little progress in establishing an unified force, further contributing to a security vacuum in the 17 Panel of Experts on South Sudan, supra note 3, at 16. 18 Id. at 15. 19 UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), South Sudan Humanitarian Fund Annual Report 2020, July 6, 2021, pg. 7. https://reliefweb.int/report/southsudan/south-sudan-humanitarian-fund-annualreport-2020. 20 World Health Organization (WHO), South Sudan—Strengthening primary health care in fragile settings, WHO Newsroom, May 20, 2021. https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/ detail/south-sudan-2021. 21 Id. 22 U.S. Agency for International Development, South Sudan—Crisis, Fact Sheet #2 Fiscal Year 2022, OCHA Services, Jan. 19, 2022. https:// reliefweb.int/report/south-sudan/south-sudancomplex-emergency-fact-sheet-2-fiscal-year-fy-2022. 23 Report of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, supra note 13, at 4. 24 Report of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, UN Doc, A/HRC/43/56 Jan. 31, 2020, pg. 6. https://www.ecoi.net/en/file/local/2025863/ A_HRC_43_56_E.pdf. PO 00000 Frm 00111 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 country.25 Security forces in the few cantonment sites often lack access to basic services, such as food, water, sanitation and health care.26 In addition, the proliferation and availability of small amounts of ammunition across South Sudan 27 has ‘‘enabled armed groups not associated with government security forces, such as local militias and cattle-raiding groups, to perpetuate instability’’ in the country.28 DOS noted in its 2020 Country Report on Human Rights Practices for South Sudan that there were reports that the government, or its agents, committed numerous arbitrary or unlawful killings. Likewise, security forces, opposition forces, armed militias affiliated with the government and the opposition, and ethnically based groups reportedly were also responsible for widespread extrajudicial killings.29 Moreover, in 2020, ongoing violence in Jonglei and the Greater Pibor Administration Area was ‘‘the worst recorded since the outbreak of the national conflict in South Sudan in December 2013, with waves of attacks and reprisals that left hundreds of South Sudanese women, men and children dead, maimed or destitute.’’ 30 In February 2021, the UN assessed that ‘‘gross human rights violations and abuses amounting to serious violations of international humanitarian law were committed in the context of localized conflicts by armed militias affiliated to the primary parties in conflict—the SSPDF [South Sudan People’s Defence Forces] and SPL[M]A–IO.’’ 31 In 2021, Upper Nile, Warrap, Lakes, Central Equatoria, and Western Equatoria states were particularly affected by violence ‘‘resulting in displacement, increased protection risks and rights violations, as well as diminished humanitarian access.’’ 32 Violence Against Children Children in South Sudan continued to be victims of what the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed 25 Rep. of the Comm. on Human Rights in South Sudan, supra note 13, at 3 (Feb. 4, 2021). 26 Id at 4. 27 Panel of Experts on South Sudan, supra note 3, at 21. 28 Id. 29 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (https://www.state.gov/reports/2020country-reports-on-human-rights-practices/): South Sudan, supra note 12. 30 Rep. of the Comm. on Human Rights in South Sudan supra note 13, at 7. 31 Id at 9. 32 UN Security Council, Situation in South Sudan, UN Doc. S/2021/784, Sept. 9, 2021, pg. 4. https://www.ecoi.net/en/file/local/2060682/S_ 2021_784_E.pdf. E:\FR\FM\03MRN1.SGM 03MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 42 / Thursday, March 3, 2022 / Notices Conflict refers to as ‘‘grave violations’’ against children,33 including forced recruitment, abduction, maiming and killing, and sexual violence.34 According to the United Nations Security Council’s 2021 Children and Armed Conflict in South Sudan report, children were recruited by the SPLM/ A–IO, the SSPDF, and the South Sudan National Police Service.35 In addition, hundreds of girls and boys continue to be abducted in South Sudan 36 for forced labor and/or forced military recruitment, and increased sexual violence.37 Child abuse, including sexual abuse, was reportedly also widespread in South Sudan.38 Child rape occurred frequently in the context of child, early, and forced marriage, and within the commercial sex industry in urban centers; armed groups also perpetrated it.39 Sexual and Gender-Based Violence khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES Sexual and gender-based violence remains high. As a of September 2020, South Sudan had seen an estimated 88 percent increase in the number of women victims of conflict-related sexual violence since the previous quarter and a 119 percent rise in the number of abductions since the previous quarter.40 In addition, rural communities often abducted women and children during cattle raids.41 Girls who are abducted have been reportedly ‘‘forced into sexual slavery, tortured and repeatedly 33 To better monitor, prevent, and end these attacks, the United Nations Security Council has identified and condemned six grave violations against children in times of war: Killing and maiming of children; recruitment or use of children in armed forces and armed groups; attacks on schools or hospitals; rape or other grave sexual violence; abduction of children; and denial of humanitarian access for children, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, The Six Grave Violations, UN, https://childrenandarmed conflict.un.org/six-grave-violations/ (last visited on Feb. 9, 2022). 34 UN Security Council, Children and Armed Conflict in South Sudan, UN Doc. A/75/873–S/ 2021/437, May 6, 2021, pg. 21. https://www.un.org/ ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2021/ 437&Lang=E&Area=UNDOC. 35 Id. 36 Rep. of the Comm. on Human Rights in South Sudan, supra note 13, at 7 (Feb. 4, 2021). 37 Human Rights Division United Nations Mission in South Sudan, Brief on Violence Affecting Civilians, Sept. 1, 2021, pg. 2. https:// unmiss.unmissions.org/sites/default/files/unmiss_ hrd_third_quarterly_brief_2021.pdf. 38 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, supra, sec. 5. 39 Id. 40 Rep. of the Comm. on Human Rights in South Sudan, supra note 13, at 13 (Feb. 4, 2021). 41 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, supra, section 5. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:23 Mar 02, 2022 Jkt 256001 gang raped.’’ 42 Perpetrators of forced marriage and sexual violence include security forces, community-based militias, civil defense groups, and other armed groups.43 Food Insecurity and Floods South Sudan remains one of the most food-insecure countries in the world.44 The overall food security situation deteriorated towards the end of 2020.45 This deteriorating security situation and COVID–19-related restrictions have hampered humanitarian organizations’ ability to deploy and respond to medical and other emergency needs in the area.46 Between April and July 2021, an estimated 7.2 million people, 60 percent of the population, faced high levels of acute food insecurity.47 Malnutrition in particular remains a pressing issue in South Sudan, with approximately 1.9 million women and children acutely malnourished.48 Malnutrition levels among children under five years of age are above emergency thresholds in many parts of the country, and 1.4 million children are estimated to be acutely malnourished.49 The main factors driving food insecurity and malnourishment are the ongoing conflict, flooding, and COVID–19.50 Moreover, COVID–19 mitigation efforts also disrupted access to supply chains for commercial and humanitarian assistance, further affecting food insecurity.51 Flooding has also taken its toll. In October 2021, the World Food Programme reported that South Sudan faced a third year of unprecedented flooding.52 The flooding was exacerbated by standing water from major floods in the previous two years, 42 Rep. of the Comm. on Human Rights in South Sudan, supra note 13, at 7. 43 UN Refugee Agency, Position on Returns to South Sudan, UNHCR, October 2021, pg. 7. https:// www.refworld.org/pdfid/617676f04.pdf. 44 South Sudan Humanitarian Fund Annual Report 2020, supra, pg. 7. 45 Id. 46 European Commission’s Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, South Sudan—Violence, Floods, Displacement in Jonglei, ECHO Daily Flash, August 11, 2020. https://reliefweb.int/report/south-sudan/ south-sudan-violence-floods-displacement-jongleidg-echo-ocha-media-echo-daily. 47 Situation in South Sudan, supra, pg. 6. 48 World Food Programme (WFP), South Sudan Situation Report, WFP Situation Report No. 296, October 29, 2021, pg.1. https://reliefweb.int/report/ south-sudan/wfp-south-sudan-situation-report-29629-october-2021. 49 Situation in South Sudan, supra, pg. 6. 50 South Sudan Humanitarian Fund Annual Report 2020, supra, pg. 7. 51 Id. 52 WFP South Sudan Situation Report, supra, pg.1. PO 00000 Frm 00112 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 12185 most of which had not fully receded.53 The most recent flooding has led to ‘‘widespread displacement, destruction of livelihoods and contamination of water sources, compounding existing insecurity issues in many regions.’’ 54 The floods also destroyed crops and loss of livestock and created a breeding ground for life-threatening waterborne diseases, including typhoid and cholera.55 Healthcare and COVID–19 Access to healthcare is an issue especially during the COVID–19 pandemic. In August 2020, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that ‘‘about 56 percent of South Sudan’s population does not have access to primary healthcare services.’’ 56 In addition, less than 2 percent of South Sudan’s national budget is spent on healthcare,57 resulting in poorly equipped health facilities with limited staff.58 South Sudan also continues to face ‘‘regular outbreaks of infectious diseases like measles, water-borne diseases such as diarrhea and Hepatitis E virus, and vector-borne diseases like malaria and yellow fever,’’ in addition to the impact of the COVID–19 pandemic.59 Economic Situation According to the World Bank, South Sudan is facing ‘‘concurrent setbacks in the economy’’ due to rising poverty, food insecurity and a resurgence of 53 REACH Initiative, South Sudan: Flooding Trends in Counties of Particular Concern of Food Insecurity, December 2021, Situation Report, Jan. 11, 2022, pg. 2. https://reliefweb.int/report/southsudan/south-sudan-flooding-trends-countiesparticular-concern-food-insecurity-december. 54 Id. at 1. 55 Rep. of the Comm. on Human Rights in South Sudan, supra note 13, at 11. 56 UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, Renewed Violence and Delayed Implementation of the Peace Agreement Severely Threaten Peace and Stability in South Sudan, UN Experts Note, UNHCR Press Release, August 14, 2020. https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/ Pages/ DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=26167&LangID=E. 57 World Health Organization, South Sudan— Strengthening Primary Health Care in Fragile Settings, WHO Newsroom, May 20, 2021. https:// www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/ south-sudan-2021. 58 UNOCHA, South Sudan Humanitarian Needs Overview 2021, Humanitarian Programme Cycle 2021, Jan. 2021, pg. 12. https://www.ecoi.net/en/ file/local/2045425/south_sudan_2021_ humanitarian_needs_overview.pdf. 59 World Health Organization, Strengthening Public Health Surveillance And Response Using the Third Edition Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response Guidelines in South Sudan, WHO Press Release, November 27, 2021. https://reliefweb.int/ report/south-sudan/strengthening-public-healthsurveillance-and-response-using-third-edition. E:\FR\FM\03MRN1.SGM 03MRN1 12186 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 42 / Thursday, March 3, 2022 / Notices conflict.60 Moreover, falling global oil prices have also affected South Sudan’s oil revenues.61 South Sudan’s economy is heavily oil-dependent, with oil accounting for 90 percent of government revenue and nearly all exports.62 This situation has caused a ‘‘great percentage of South Sudanese people to lose their sources of livelihood and has left some communities facing catastrophic needs.’’ 63 Moreover, urgent and essentials measures to manage the COVID–19 pandemic, ‘‘worsened economic conditions, disrupting livelihoods and affecting vulnerable households’ access to markets, food and adequate income.’’ 64 Approximately 107 F–1 nonimmigrant students from South Sudan are enrolled in courses at SEVPcertified U.S. academic institutions as of January 13, 2022. Given the extent of the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, affected students whose primary means of financial support comes from South Sudan may need to be exempt from the normal student employment requirements to continue their studies in the United States. The humanitarian crisis has made it unfeasible for many students to safely return to South Sudan for the foreseeable future. Without employment authorization, these students may lack the means to meet basic living expenses. What is the minimum course load requirement to maintain valid F–1 nonimmigrant status under this notice? Undergraduate F–1 nonimmigrant students who receive on-campus or offcampus employment authorization under this notice must remain registered for a minimum of six semester or quarter hours of instruction per academic term.65 A graduate-level F–1 nonimmigrant student who receives oncampus or off-campus employment authorization under this notice must remain registered for a minimum of khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES 60 The World Bank, South Sudan Economic Update, June 2021: Pathways to Sustainable Food Security, OCHA Services, July 2, 2021. https:// reliefweb.int/report/south-sudan/south-sudaneconomic-update-june-2021-pathways-sustainablefood-security. 61 Id. 62 South Sudan Humanitarian Needs Overview 2021 supra, pg. 12. 63 South Sudan Economic Update, June 2021: Pathways to Sustainable Food Security, supra. 64 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, South Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan, OCHA Services, May 2021, pg. 2. https://reliefweb.int/report/south-sudan/southsudan-humanitarian-response-plan-2021. 65 Undergraduate F–1 nonimmigrant students enrolled in a term of different duration must register for at least one half of the credit hours normally required under a ‘‘full course of study.’’ See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(B). VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:23 Mar 02, 2022 Jkt 256001 three semester or quarter hours of instruction per academic term. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(5)(v). Nothing in this notice affects the applicability of other minimum course load requirements set by the academic institution. In addition, an F–1 nonimmigrant student (either undergraduate or graduate) granted on-campus or offcampus employment authorization under this notice may count up to the equivalent of one class or three credits per session, term, semester, trimester, or quarter of online or distance education toward satisfying this minimum course load requirement, unless the course of study is in a language study program.66 See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G). An F–1 nonimmigrant student attending an approved private school in kindergarten through grade 12 or public school in grades 9 through 12 must maintain ‘‘class attendance for not less than the minimum number of hours a week prescribed by the school for normal progress toward graduation,’’ as required under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(E). Nothing in this notice affects the applicability of federal and state labor laws limiting the employment of minors. May an eligible F–1 nonimmigrant student who already has on-campus or off-campus employment authorization benefit from the suspension of regulatory requirements under this notice? Yes. An F–1 nonimmigrant student who is a South Sudan citizen, regardless of country of birth (or an individual having no nationality who last habitually resided in South Sudan), who already has on-campus or off-campus employment authorization and is otherwise eligible may benefit under this notice, which suspends certain regulatory requirements relating to the minimum course load requirement under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(A) and (B) and certain employment eligibility requirements under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9). Such an eligible F–1 nonimmigrant student may benefit without having to apply for a new Form I–766, Employment Authorization Document (EAD). To benefit from this notice, the F–1 nonimmigrant student must request that the designated school official (DSO) enter the following statement in the remarks field of the student’s Student and Exchange Visitor Information 66 DHS considers students who are compliant with ICE coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID–19) guidance for nonimmigrant students to be in compliance with regulations while such COVID–19 guidance remains in effect. See ICE Guidance and Frequently Asked Questions on COVID–19, https:// www.ice.gov/coronavirus (last visited Feb. 2022). PO 00000 Frm 00113 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 System (SEVIS) record, which the student’s Form I–20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F–1) Student Status, will reflect: Approved for more than 20 hours per week of [DSO must insert ‘‘on-campus’’ or ‘‘offcampus,’’ depending upon the type of employment authorization the student already has] employment authorization and reduced course load under the Special Student Relief authorization from [DSO must insert the beginning date of the notice or the beginning date of the student’s employment, whichever date is later] until [DSO must insert either the student’s program end date, the current EAD expiration date (if the student is currently authorized for offcampus employment), or the end date of this notice, whichever date comes first]. Must the F–1 nonimmigrant student apply for reinstatement after expiration of this special employment authorization if the student reduces his or her ‘‘full course of study’’? No. DHS will deem an F–1 nonimmigrant student who receives and comports with the employment authorization permitted under this notice to be engaged in a ‘‘full course of study’’ 67 for the duration of the student’s employment authorization, provided that a qualifying undergraduate level F–1 nonimmigrant student remains registered for a minimum of six semester or quarter hours of instruction per academic term, and a qualifying graduate level F–1 nonimmigrant student remains registered for a minimum of three semester or quarter hours of instruction per academic term.68 See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(5)(v) and (f)(6)(i)(F). DHS will not require such students to apply for reinstatement under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(16) if they are otherwise maintaining F–1 nonimmigrant status. Will an F–2 dependent (spouse or minor child) of an F–1 nonimmigrant student covered by this notice be eligible to apply for employment authorization? No. An F–2 spouse or minor child of an F–1 nonimmigrant student is not authorized to work in the United States and, therefore, may not accept employment under the F–2 nonimmigrant status. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(15)(i). 67 See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6). F–1 nonimmigrant students enrolled in a term of different duration must register for at least one half of the credit hours normally required under a ‘‘full course of study.’’ See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(B). 68 Undergraduate E:\FR\FM\03MRN1.SGM 03MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 42 / Thursday, March 3, 2022 / Notices Will the suspension of the applicability of the standard student employment requirements apply to an individual who receives an initial F–1 visa and makes an initial entry in the United States after the effective date of this notice in the Federal Register? No. The suspension of the applicability of the standard regulatory requirements only applies to F–1 nonimmigrant students who meet the following conditions: (1) Are citizens of South Sudan, regardless of country of birth (or individuals having no nationality who last habitually resided in South Sudan); (2) Were lawfully present in the United States in F–1 nonimmigrant status under section 101(a)(15)(F)(i) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(F)(i), on the date of publication of this notice; (3) Are enrolled in an academic institution that is SEVP-certified for enrollment of F–1 nonimmigrant students; (4) Are maintaining F–1 nonimmigrant status; and (5) Are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. An F–1 nonimmigrant student who does not meet all these requirements is ineligible for the suspension of the applicability of the standard regulatory requirements (even if experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan). Does this notice apply to a continuing F–1 nonimmigrant student who departs the United States after the effective date of this notice in the Federal Register and who needs to obtain a new F–1 visa before returning to the United States to continue an educational program? Yes. This notice applies to such an F– 1 nonimmigrant student, but only if the DSO has properly notated the student’s SEVIS record, which will then appear on the student’s Form I–20. The normal rules for visa issuance remain applicable to a nonimmigrant who needs to apply for a new F–1 visa in order to continue their educational program in the United States. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES Does this notice apply to elementary school, middle school, and high school students in F–1 status? Yes. However, this notice does not by itself reduce the required course load for F–1 nonimmigrant students from South Sudan enrolled in private kindergarten through grade 12, or public-school grades 9 through 12. Such students must maintain the minimum number of hours of class attendance per week prescribed VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:23 Mar 02, 2022 Jkt 256001 by the academic institution for normal progress toward graduation. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(E). The suspension of certain regulatory requirements related to employment through this notice is applicable to all eligible F–1 nonimmigrant students regardless of educational level. Eligible F–1 nonimmigrant students from South Sudan enrolled in an elementary school, middle school, or high school may benefit from the suspension of the requirement in 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)(i) that limits on-campus employment to 20 hours per week while school is in session. Nothing in this notice affects the applicability of federal and state labor laws limiting the employment of minors. On-Campus Employment Authorization Will an F–1 nonimmigrant student who receives on-campus employment authorization under this notice be authorized to work more than 20 hours per week while school is in session? Yes. For an F–1 nonimmigrant student covered in this notice, the Secretary is suspending the applicability of the requirement in 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)(i) that limits an F–1 nonimmigrant student’s on-campus employment to 20 hours per week while school is in session. An eligible F–1 nonimmigrant student has authorization to work more than 20 hours per week while school is in session, if the DSO has entered the following statement in the remarks field of the SEVIS student record, which will be reflected on the student’s Form I–20: Approved for more than 20 hours per week of on-campus employment and reduced course load, under the Special Student Relief authorization from [DSO must insert the beginning date of this notice or the beginning date of the student’s employment, whichever date is later] until [DSO must insert the student’s program end date or the end date of this notice, whichever date comes first]. To obtain on-campus employment authorization, the F–1 nonimmigrant student must demonstrate to the DSO that the employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship directly resulting from the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. An F–1 nonimmigrant student authorized by the student’s DSO to engage in on-campus employment by means of this notice does not need to file any applications with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The standard rules permitting full-time employment on-campus when school is not in session or during school vacations apply. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)(i). PO 00000 Frm 00114 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 12187 Will an F–1 nonimmigrant student who receives on-campus employment authorization under this notice have authorization to reduce the normal course load and still maintain their F– 1 nonimmigrant status? Yes. DHS will deem an F–1 nonimmigrant student who receives oncampus employment authorization under this notice to be engaged in a ‘‘full course of study’’ 69 for the purpose of maintaining their F–1 nonimmigrant student status for the duration of the oncampus employment if the student satisfies the minimum course load requirement described in this notice. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(F). However, the authorization to reduce the normal course load is solely for DHS purposes of determining valid F–1 nonimmigrant student status. Nothing in this notice mandates that school officials allow an F–1 nonimmigrant student to take a reduced course load if the reduction would not meet the school’s minimum course load requirement for continued enrollment.70 Off-Campus Employment Authorization What regulatory requirements does this notice temporarily suspend relating to off-campus employment? For an F–1 nonimmigrant student covered by this notice, as provided under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)(ii)(A), the Secretary is suspending the following regulatory requirements relating to offcampus employment: (a) The requirement that a student must have been in F–1 nonimmigrant status for one full academic year in order to be eligible for off-campus employment; (b) The requirement that an F–1 nonimmigrant student must demonstrate that acceptance of employment will not interfere with the student’s carrying a full course of study; (c) The requirement that limits an F– 1 nonimmigrant student’s employment authorization to no more than 20 hours per week of off-campus employment while school is in session; and (d) The requirement that the student demonstrate that employment under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)(i) is unavailable or otherwise insufficient to meet the needs that have arisen as a result of the unforeseen circumstances. 69 See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6). course load requirement for enrollment in a school must be established in a publicly available document (e.g., catalog, website, or operating procedure), and it must be a standard applicable to all students (U.S. citizens and foreign students) enrolled at the school. 70 Minimum E:\FR\FM\03MRN1.SGM 03MRN1 12188 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 42 / Thursday, March 3, 2022 / Notices Will an F–1 nonimmigrant student who receives off-campus employment authorization under this notice have authorization to reduce the normal course load and still maintain F–1 nonimmigrant status? Yes. DHS will deem an F–1 nonimmigrant student who receives offcampus employment authorization by means of this notice to be engaged in a ‘‘full course of study’’ 71 for the purpose of maintaining F–1 nonimmigrant student status for the duration of the student’s employment authorization if the student satisfies the minimum course load requirement described in this notice. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(F). However, the authorization for reduced course load is solely for DHS purposes of determining valid F–1 nonimmigrant status. Nothing in this notice mandates that school officials allow an F–1 nonimmigrant student to take a reduced course load if such reduced course load would not meet the school’s minimum course load requirement.72 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES How may an eligible F–1 nonimmigrant student obtain employment authorization for off-campus employment with a reduced course load under this notice? An F–1 nonimmigrant student must file a Form I–765, Application for Employment Authorization, with USCIS to apply for off-campus employment authorization based on severe economic hardship directly resulting from the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. Filing instructions are located at: http:// www.uscis.gov/i-765. Fee considerations. Submission of a Form I–765 currently requires payment of a $410 fee. An applicant who is unable to pay the fee may submit a completed Form I–912, Request for Fee Waiver, along with the Form I–765, Application for Employment Authorization. See www.uscis.gov/ feewaiver. The submission must include an explanation about why USCIS should grant the fee waiver and the reason(s) for the inability to pay, and any evidence to support the reason(s). See 8 CFR 103.7(c). Supporting documentation. An F–1 nonimmigrant student seeking offcampus employment authorization due to severe economic hardship must demonstrate the following to the DSO: 71 See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6). course load requirement for enrollment in a school must be established in a publicly available document (e.g., catalog, website, or operating procedure), and it must be a standard applicable to all students (U.S. citizens and foreign students) enrolled at the school. 72 Minimum VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:23 Mar 02, 2022 Jkt 256001 (1) This employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship; and (2) The hardship is a direct result of the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. If the DSO agrees that the F–1 nonimmigrant student should receive such employment authorization, the DSO must recommend application approval to USCIS by entering the following statement in the remarks field of the student’s SEVIS record, which will then appear on the student’s Form I–20: Recommended for off-campus employment authorization in excess of 20 hours per week and reduced course load under the Special Student Relief authorization from the date of the USCIS authorization noted on Form I– 766 until [DSO must insert the program end date or the end date of this notice, whichever date comes first]. The F–1 nonimmigrant student must then file the properly endorsed Form I– 20 and Form I–765, according to the instructions for the Form I–765. The F– 1 nonimmigrant student may begin working off campus only upon receipt of the EAD from USCIS. DSO recommendation. In making a recommendation that a F–1 nonimmigrant student be approved for Special Student Relief, the DSO certifies that: (a) The F–1 nonimmigrant student is in good academic standing and is carrying a ‘‘full course of study’’ 73 at the time of the request for employment authorization; (b) The F–1 nonimmigrant student is a South Sudan citizen, regardless of country of birth (or an individual having no nationality who last habitually resided in South Sudan), and is experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, as documented on the Form I–20; (c) The F–1 nonimmigrant student has confirmed that the student will comply with the reduced course load requirements of 8 CFR 214.2(f)(5)(v) and register for the duration of the authorized employment for a minimum of six semester or quarter hours of instruction per academic term if at the undergraduate level, or for a minimum of three semester or quarter hours of instruction per academic term if the student is at the graduate level; and (d) The off-campus employment is necessary to alleviate severe economic hardship to the individual as a direct result of the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. Processing. To facilitate prompt adjudication of the student’s application for off-campus employment 73 See PO 00000 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6). Frm 00115 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 authorization under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)(ii)(C), the F–1 nonimmigrant student should do both of the following: (a) Ensure that the application package includes all of the following documents: (1) A completed Form I–765; (2) The required fee or properly documented fee waiver request, as described in 8 CFR 103.7(c); and (3) A signed and dated copy of the student’s Form I–20 with the appropriate DSO recommendation, as previously described in this notice; and (b) Send the application in an envelope which is clearly marked on the front of the envelope, bottom right-hand side, with the phrase ‘‘SPECIAL STUDENT RELIEF.’’ Failure to include this notation may result in significant processing delays. If USCIS approves the student’s Form I–765, USCIS will send the student a Form I–766 EAD as evidence of employment authorization. The EAD will contain an expiration date that does not exceed the end of the granted temporary relief. Temporary Protected Status Considerations Can an F–1 nonimmigrant student apply for temporary protected status (TPS) and for benefits under this notice at the same time? Yes. An F–1 nonimmigrant student who has not yet applied for TPS or other relief that reduce the student’s course load per term and permits an increased number of work hours per week, such as Special Student Relief,74 under this notice has two options. Under the first option, the nonimmigrant student may file the TPS application according to the instructions in the USCIS notice designating South Sudan for TPS published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register. All TPS applicants must file a Form I–821, Application for Temporary Protected Status with the appropriate fee (or request a fee waiver). Although not required to do so, if an F–1 nonimmigrant student wants to obtain a new EAD based on their TPS application that is valid through November 3, 2023, and to be eligible for automatic EAD extensions that may be available to certain EADs with an A–12 or C–19 category code, they must file Form I–765 and pay the Form I–765 fee (or submit a Request for a Fee Waiver (Form I–912)). After receiving the TPSrelated EAD, an F–1 nonimmigrant student may request that the student’s 74 See DHS Study in the States, Special Student Relief, https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/students/ special-student-relief (last visited Feb. 2022). E:\FR\FM\03MRN1.SGM 03MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 42 / Thursday, March 3, 2022 / Notices khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES DSO make the required entry in SEVIS, issue an updated Form I–20, as described in this notice, and notate that the nonimmigrant student has been authorized to carry a reduced course load and is working pursuant to a TPSrelated EAD. So long as the nonimmigrant student maintains the minimum course load described in this notice, does not otherwise violate the student’s nonimmigrant status, including as provided under 8 CFR 214.1(g), and maintains the student’s TPS, then the student maintains F–1 nonimmigrant status and TPS concurrently. Under the second option, the nonimmigrant student may apply for an EAD under Special Student Relief by filing the Form I–765 with the location specified in the filing instructions. At the same time, the F–1 nonimmigrant student may file a separate TPS application but must submit the TPS application according to the instructions provided in the Federal Register Notice designating South Sudan for TPS. The F–1 nonimmigrant student already has applied for employment authorization under Special Student Relief, and may choose not to submit the Form I–765 as part of the TPS application. However, some nonimmigrant students may wish to obtain a TPS EAD in light of automatic extensions that may be available to certain EADs with an A–12 or C–19 category code. The nonimmigrant student should check the appropriate box when filling out Form I–821 to indicate whether a TPS-related EAD is being requested. Again, so long as the nonimmigrant student maintains the minimum course load described in this notice and does not otherwise violate the student’s nonimmigrant status, included as provided under 8 CFR 214.1(g), the nonimmigrant will be able to maintain compliance requirements for F–1 nonimmigrant student status while having TPS. When a student applies simultaneously for TPS and benefits under this notice, what is the minimum course load requirement while an application for employment authorization is pending? The F–1 nonimmigrant student must maintain normal course load requirements for a ‘‘full course of study’’ 75 unless or until the nonimmigrant student receives employment authorization under this notice. TPS-related employment authorization, by itself, does not authorize a nonimmigrant student to drop below twelve credit hours, or otherwise applicable minimum 75 See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6). VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:23 Mar 02, 2022 Jkt 256001 requirements (e.g., clock hours for language students). Once approved for Special Student Relief employment authorization, the F–1 nonimmigrant student may drop below twelve credit hours, or otherwise applicable minimum requirements (with a minimum of six semester or quarter credit hours of instruction per academic term if at the undergraduate level, or for a minimum of three semester or quarter credit hours of instruction per academic term if at the graduate level). See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(5)(v), (f)(6), and (f)(9)(i) and (ii). How does a student who has received a TPS-related employment authorization document then apply for authorization to take a reduced course load under this notice? There is no further application process with USCIS if a student has been approved for a TPS-related EAD. The F–1 nonimmigrant student must demonstrate and provide documentation to the DSO of the direct economic hardship resulting from the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. The DSO will then verify and update the student’s record in SEVIS to enable the F–1 nonimmigrant student with TPS to reduce the course load without any further action or application. No other EAD needs to be issued for the F–1 nonimmigrant student to have employment authorization. Can a noncitizen who has been granted TPS apply for reinstatement of F–1 nonimmigrant student status after the noncitizen’s F–1 nonimmigrant student status has lapsed? Yes. Current regulations permit certain students who fall out of F–1 nonimmigrant student status to apply for reinstatement. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(16). This provision might apply to students who worked on a TPSrelated EAD or dropped their course load before publication of this notice, and therefore fell out of student status. These students must satisfy the criteria set forth in the student status reinstatement regulations. How long will this notice remain in effect? This notice grants temporary relief until November 3, 2023 76 to eligible F– the suspension of requirements under this notice applies throughout an academic term during which the suspension is in effect, DHS considers an F–1 nonimmigrant student who engages in a reduced course load or employment (or both) after this notice is effective to be engaging in a ‘‘full course of study,’’ see 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6), and eligible for employment authorization, through the end of any academic term for which such student is matriculated as of November 3, 2023, provided the student satisfies the minimum course load 12189 1 nonimmigrant students. DHS will continue to monitor the situation in South Sudan. Should the special provisions authorized by this notice need modification or extension, DHS will announce such changes in the Federal Register. Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) An F–1 nonimmigrant student seeking off-campus employment authorization due to severe economic hardship resulting from the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan must demonstrate to the DSO that this employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship. A DSO who agrees that a nonimmigrant student should receive such employment authorization must recommend an application approval to USCIS by entering information in the remarks field of the student’s SEVIS record. The authority to collect this information is in the SEVIS collection of information currently approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under OMB Control Number 1653–0038. This notice also allows an eligible F– 1 nonimmigrant student to request employment authorization, work an increased number of hours while the academic institution is in session, and reduce their course load while continuing to maintain F–1 nonimmigrant student status. To apply for employment authorization, certain F–1 nonimmigrant students must complete and submit a currently approved Form I–765 according to the instructions on the form. OMB has previously approved the collection of information contained on the current Form I–765, consistent with the PRA (OMB Control No. 1615– 0040). Although there will be a slight increase in the number of Form I–765 filings because of this notice, the number of filings currently contained in the OMB annual inventory for Form I– 765 is sufficient to cover the additional filings. Accordingly, there is no further action required under the PRA. Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security. [FR Doc. 2022–04570 Filed 3–2–22; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9111–28–P 76 Because PO 00000 Frm 00116 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 requirement in this notice. DHS also considers students who engage in online coursework pursuant to ICE coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID–19) guidance for nonimmigrant students to be in compliance with regulations while such guidance remains in effect. See ICE Guidance and Frequently Asked Questions on COVID–19, Nonimmigrant Students & SEVP-Certified Schools: Frequently Asked Questions, https://www.ice.gov/coronavirus (last visited Feb. 2022). E:\FR\FM\03MRN1.SGM 03MRN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 87, Number 42 (Thursday, March 3, 2022)]
[Notices]
[Pages 12182-12189]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2022-04570]


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DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

[Docket No. ICEB-2022-0003]
RIN 1653-ZA24


Employment Authorization for South Sudanese F-1 Nonimmigrant 
Students Experiencing Severe Economic Hardship as a Direct Result of 
the Current Humanitarian Crisis in South Sudan

AGENCY: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of 
Homeland Security.

ACTION: Notice.

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[[Page 12183]]

SUMMARY: This notice announces that the Secretary of Homeland Security 
(Secretary) is suspending certain regulatory requirements for F-1 
nonimmigrant students whose country of citizenship is the Republic of 
South Sudan (South Sudan), regardless of country of birth (or 
individuals having no nationality who last habitually resided in South 
Sudan), and who are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct 
result of the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. The Secretary is 
taking action to provide relief to these South Sudanese students who 
are lawful F-1 nonimmigrant students so the students may request 
employment authorization, work an increased number of hours while 
school is in session, and reduce their course load while continuing to 
maintain their F-1 nonimmigrant student status. The Department of 
Homeland Security (DHS) will deem an F-1 nonimmigrant student who 
receives employment authorization by means of this notice to be engaged 
in a ``full course of study'' for the duration of the employment 
authorization, if the nonimmigrant student satisfies the minimum course 
load requirement described in this notice.

DATES: This F-1 notice is effective March 3, 2022, through November 3, 
2023.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sharon Snyder, Unit Chief, Policy and 
Response Unit, Student and Exchange Visitor Program, MS 5600, U.S. 
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 500 12th Street SW, Washington, DC 
20536-5600; email: [email protected], telephone: (703) 603-3400. This is 
not a toll-free number. Program information can be found at https://www.ice.gov/sevis/.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

What action is DHS taking under this notice?

    The Secretary is exercising his authority under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9) 
to temporarily suspend the applicability of certain requirements 
governing on-campus and off-campus employment for F-1 nonimmigrant 
students whose country of citizenship is South Sudan, regardless of 
country of birth (or individuals having no nationality who last 
habitually resided in South Sudan), who are present in the United 
States in lawful F-1 nonimmigrant student status on the date of 
publication of this notice, and who are experiencing severe economic 
hardship as a direct result of the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan 
due to many years of armed conflict leading to the destruction of 
people's livelihoods. Effective with this publication, suspension of 
the employment limitations is available through November 3, 2023, for 
those who are in lawful F-1 nonimmigrant status. DHS will deem an F-1 
nonimmigrant student granted employment authorization through the 
notice to be engaged in a ``full course of study'' for the duration of 
the employment authorization, if the student satisfies the minimum 
course load set forth in this notice.\1\ See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(F).
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    \1\ Because the suspension of requirements under this notice 
applies throughout an academic term during which the suspension is 
in effect, DHS considers an F-1 nonimmigrant student who engages in 
a reduced course load or employment (or both) after this notice is 
effective to be engaging in a ``full course of study,'' see 8 CFR 
214.2(f)(6), and eligible for employment authorization, through the 
end of any academic term for which such student is matriculated as 
of November 3, 2023, provided the student satisfies the minimum 
course load requirements in this notice. DHS also considers students 
who engage in online coursework pursuant to U.S. Immigration and 
Customs Enforcement (ICE) coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) 
guidance for nonimmigrant students to be in compliance with 
regulations while such guidance remains in effect. See ICE Guidance 
and Frequently Asked Questions on COVID-19, Nonimmigrant Students & 
SEVP-Certified Schools: Frequently Asked Questions, https://www.ice.gov/coronavirus (last visited Feb. 2022).
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Who is covered by this notice?

    This notice applies exclusively to F-1 nonimmigrant students who 
meet all of the following conditions:
    (1) Are a citizen of South Sudan regardless of country of birth (or 
an individual having no nationality who last habitually resided in 
South Sudan);
    (2) Were lawfully present in the United States in F-1 nonimmigrant 
status under section 101(a)(15)(F)(i) of the Immigration and 
Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(F)(i), on the date of 
publication of this notice;
    (3) Are enrolled in an academic institution that is Student and 
Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified for enrollment for F-1 
nonimmigrant students;
    (4) Are maintaining F-1 nonimmigrant status; and
    (5) Are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of 
the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan.
    This notice applies to F-1 nonimmigrant students in an approved 
private school in kindergarten through grade 12, public school in 
grades 9 through 12, and undergraduate and graduate education. An F-1 
nonimmigrant student covered by this notice who transfers to another 
SEVP-certified academic institution remains eligible for the relief 
provided by means of this notice.

Why is DHS taking this action?

    DHS is taking action to provide relief to South Sudanese F-1 
nonimmigrant students experiencing severe economic hardship as a result 
of the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. DHS has reviewed country 
conditions in South Sudan. Based on the review, including input 
received from the U.S. Department of State (DOS), DHS is taking action 
to allow eligible F-1 nonimmigrant students from South Sudan, to 
request employment authorization, work an increased number of hours 
while school is in session, and reduce their course load while 
continuing to maintain F-1 nonimmigrant student status.
    Since February 2020, limited implementation of the September 2018 
Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict (R-ARCSS) ``has 
hindered improvements in the protection of civilians and prospects for 
long-term peace'' in South Sudan.\2\ Moreover, ongoing political 
disputes and disagreements between the two main signatories--the Sudan 
People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), led by the President Salva Kiir 
Mayardit, and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-Army in Opposition 
(SPLM/A-IO), led by the First Vice-President, Riek Machar Teny--``has 
widened existing political, military and ethnic divisions in the 
country and has led to multiple incidents of violence'' between the two 
parties.\3\ In addition, political divisions among the non-signatories 
\4\ to the R-ARCSS have made it more difficult to negotiate a 
comprehensive peace.\5\ Moreover, the SPLM/A-IO has also begun to break 
apart and new splinter groups have formed,\6\ resulting in increased 
violence.\7\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ Rep. of the Panel of Experts on South Sudan (2020), 
transmitted by Letter dated 14 April 2021 from the Panel of Experts 
on South Sudan Established Pursuant to Resolution 2206 (2015) 
Concerning South Sudan to the President of the Security Council, at 
2, UN Doc. S/2021/365 (Apr. 15, 2021) (hereinafter Panel of Experts 
on South Sudan).
    \3\ Id.
    \4\ Previously united under one umbrella group--the South Sudan 
Opposition Movements Alliance--non-signatories of the R-ARCSS have 
divided into two factions, one led by General Thomas Cirillo Swaka, 
the leader of the National Salvation Front (NAS), and another led by 
General Pagan Amum and General Paul Malong Awan Anei. See id. at 9.
    \5\ See id.
    \6\ Id. at 11.
    \7\ Dan Watson, Surface Tension: `Communal' Violence and Elite 
Ambitions in South Sudan, Armed Conflict Location & Event Data, 
(Aug. 19, 2021). https://acleddata.com/2021/08/19/surface-tension-communal-violence-and-elite-ambitions-in-south-sudan/.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In June 2021, the United Nations (UN) reported that ``the overall

[[Page 12184]]

implementation of the R-ARCSS is progressing slowly.'' \8\ Political 
gridlock over implementation of the political and security aspects of 
the R-ARCSS have also contributed to insecurity in South Sudan.\9\ The 
UN further assessed that weak or absent State governance has allowed 
``perennial communal and ethnic cleavages,'' while entrenched 
insecurity contributes to a vicious cycle of livestock raiding and 
subsequent food insecurity. A weakened rule of law and flagging 
economic conditions have resulted in increased criminality and the 
targeting of humanitarian workers.\10\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \8\ UN Security Council, Marking a Decade of Independence, South 
Sudan Faces Slow Progress, Lingering Violence, Secretary-General's 
Special Representative Tells Security Council, UN Office for the 
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Services, June 22, 2021. 
https://reliefweb.int/report/south-sudan/marking-decade-independence-south-sudan-faces-slow-progress-lingering-violence.
    \9\ Panel of Experts on South Sudan, supra note 3, at 2.
    \10\ Marking a Decade of Independence, South Sudan Faces Slow 
Progress, Lingering Violence, Secretary-General's Special 
Representative Tells Security Council, supra.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    South Sudan continues to face increased violence \11\ from 
government security forces and armed groups.\12\ In 2020, the United 
Nations (UN) and international organizations reported on ``widespread 
killings, mutilations, and sexual violence, disproportionately 
committed by government forces but also by the National Salvation Front 
(NAS), a key opposition group.'' \13\ In February 2021, the UN 
Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan noted that armed clashes at 
the local level also resulted in the mass displacement of the civilian 
population, particularly women and girls.\14\ Children are among those 
feeling the greatest impact of this violence, exposing them to 
protection risks and life-threatening diseases.\15\ Moreover, sexual 
violence--including rape, gang rape, abduction, sexual slavery, and 
sexual mutilation remain ``consistent features of the conflict in South 
Sudan since 2013, and are now being replicated in conflict at the local 
level.'' \16\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \11\ Id.
    \12\ Panel of Experts on South Sudan, supra note 3 at 15.
    \13\ U.S. Dep't of State, 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights 
Practices: South Sudan (Mar. 31, 2021). https://www.state.gov/reports/2020-country-reports-on-human-rights-practices/south-sudan/.
    \14\ Rep. of the Comm. on Human Rights in South Sudan, at 14, UN 
Doc. A/HRC/46/53 (Feb. 4, 2021). https://www.ecoi.net/en/file/local/2046934/A_HRC_46_53_E.pdf.
    \15\ UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), South Sudan Humanitarian 
Situation Report No. 163: 1-30, UNICEF, Dec. 30, 2021, pg. 2. UNICEF 
South Sudan Humanitarian Situation Report No. 163: 1-30 November 
2021--South Sudan [bond] ReliefWeb.
    \16\ Rep. of the Comm. on Human Rights in South Sudan, supra 
note 13, at 14.
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    In addition, humanitarian organizations continue to face security 
and bureaucratic barriers that affect the delivery and access of 
humanitarian aid and pose ``serious personal risks to aid workers.'' 
\17\ Access is difficult due to flooding, violence, and Coronavirus 
Disease 2019 (COVID-19) restrictions. As a result, South Sudan is also 
facing ``one of the direst food crises the country has faced since its 
independence in 2011.'' \18\ Moreover, chronic food shortages, a 
deepening economic crisis, insecurity, and limited agricultural 
production led to high levels of acute malnutrition.\19\ South Sudan's 
health care infrastructure remains inadequate.\20\ Facilities are 
limited and often inaccessible and facing staffing shortages amongst 
ongoing insecurity and violence.\21\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \17\ Panel of Experts on South Sudan, supra note 3, at 16.
    \18\ Id. at 15.
    \19\ UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 
(UNOCHA), South Sudan Humanitarian Fund Annual Report 2020, July 6, 
2021, pg. 7. https://reliefweb.int/report/south-sudan/south-sudan-humanitarian-fund-annual-report-2020.
    \20\ World Health Organization (WHO), South Sudan--Strengthening 
primary health care in fragile settings, WHO Newsroom, May 20, 2021. 
https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/south-sudan-2021.
    \21\ Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) 
estimates that over 8 million people in South Sudan need humanitarian 
assistance and 2 million people are internally displaced. In addition, 
over 800,000 people have been affected by floods and more than 2 
million are refugees in neighboring countries.\22\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \22\ U.S. Agency for International Development, South Sudan--
Crisis, Fact Sheet #2 Fiscal Year 2022, OCHA Services, Jan. 19, 
2022. https://reliefweb.int/report/south-sudan/south-sudan-complex-emergency-fact-sheet-2-fiscal-year-fy-2022.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The lack of adequate financial resources and logistical support for 
the unification, training, and deployment of the South Sudan armed 
forces, as outlined in the R-ARCSS, remains a significant security 
challenge.\23\ A key component of the R-ARCSS is the long-term 
garrisoning (cantonment), registration, screening, selection, training 
and redeployment of opposition forces and the creation of a unified 
army of 83,000 soldiers. South Sudanese military cantonment sites and 
training centers \24\ have made little progress in establishing an 
unified force, further contributing to a security vacuum in the 
country.\25\ Security forces in the few cantonment sites often lack 
access to basic services, such as food, water, sanitation and health 
care.\26\ In addition, the proliferation and availability of small 
amounts of ammunition across South Sudan \27\ has ``enabled armed 
groups not associated with government security forces, such as local 
militias and cattle-raiding groups, to perpetuate instability'' in the 
country.\28\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \23\ Report of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, 
supra note 13, at 4.
    \24\ Report of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, UN 
Doc, A/HRC/43/56 Jan. 31, 2020, pg. 6. https://www.ecoi.net/en/file/local/2025863/A_HRC_43_56_E.pdf.
    \25\ Rep. of the Comm. on Human Rights in South Sudan, supra 
note 13, at 3 (Feb. 4, 2021).
    \26\ Id at 4.
    \27\ Panel of Experts on South Sudan, supra note 3, at 21.
    \28\ Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    DOS noted in its 2020 Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 
South Sudan that there were reports that the government, or its agents, 
committed numerous arbitrary or unlawful killings. Likewise, security 
forces, opposition forces, armed militias affiliated with the 
government and the opposition, and ethnically based groups reportedly 
were also responsible for widespread extrajudicial killings.\29\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \29\ 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (https://www.state.gov/reports/2020-country-reports-on-human-rights-practices/): South Sudan, supra note 12.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Moreover, in 2020, ongoing violence in Jonglei and the Greater 
Pibor Administration Area was ``the worst recorded since the outbreak 
of the national conflict in South Sudan in December 2013, with waves of 
attacks and reprisals that left hundreds of South Sudanese women, men 
and children dead, maimed or destitute.'' \30\ In February 2021, the UN 
assessed that ``gross human rights violations and abuses amounting to 
serious violations of international humanitarian law were committed in 
the context of localized conflicts by armed militias affiliated to the 
primary parties in conflict--the SSPDF [South Sudan People's Defence 
Forces] and SPL[M]A-IO.'' \31\ In 2021, Upper Nile, Warrap, Lakes, 
Central Equatoria, and Western Equatoria states were particularly 
affected by violence ``resulting in displacement, increased protection 
risks and rights violations, as well as diminished humanitarian 
access.'' \32\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \30\ Rep. of the Comm. on Human Rights in South Sudan supra note 
13, at 7.
    \31\ Id at 9.
    \32\ UN Security Council, Situation in South Sudan, UN Doc. S/
2021/784, Sept. 9, 2021, pg. 4. https://www.ecoi.net/en/file/local/2060682/S_2021_784_E.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Violence Against Children

    Children in South Sudan continued to be victims of what the Office 
of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and 
Armed

[[Page 12185]]

Conflict refers to as ``grave violations'' against children,\33\ 
including forced recruitment, abduction, maiming and killing, and 
sexual violence.\34\ According to the United Nations Security Council's 
2021 Children and Armed Conflict in South Sudan report, children were 
recruited by the SPLM/A-IO, the SSPDF, and the South Sudan National 
Police Service.\35\ In addition, hundreds of girls and boys continue to 
be abducted in South Sudan \36\ for forced labor and/or forced military 
recruitment, and increased sexual violence.\37\ Child abuse, including 
sexual abuse, was reportedly also widespread in South Sudan.\38\ Child 
rape occurred frequently in the context of child, early, and forced 
marriage, and within the commercial sex industry in urban centers; 
armed groups also perpetrated it.\39\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \33\ To better monitor, prevent, and end these attacks, the 
United Nations Security Council has identified and condemned six 
grave violations against children in times of war: Killing and 
maiming of children; recruitment or use of children in armed forces 
and armed groups; attacks on schools or hospitals; rape or other 
grave sexual violence; abduction of children; and denial of 
humanitarian access for children, Office of the Special 
Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed 
Conflict, The Six Grave Violations, UN, https://childrenandarmedconflict.un.org/six-grave-violations/ (last visited 
on Feb. 9, 2022).
    \34\ UN Security Council, Children and Armed Conflict in South 
Sudan, UN Doc. A/75/873-S/2021/437, May 6, 2021, pg. 21. https://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2021/437&Lang=E&Area=UNDOC.
    \35\ Id.
    \36\ Rep. of the Comm. on Human Rights in South Sudan, supra 
note 13, at 7 (Feb. 4, 2021).
    \37\ Human Rights Division United Nations Mission in South 
Sudan, Brief on Violence Affecting Civilians, Sept. 1, 2021, pg. 2. 
https://unmiss.unmissions.org/sites/default/files/unmiss_hrd_third_quarterly_brief_2021.pdf.
    \38\ 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, supra, sec. 
5.
    \39\ Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

    Sexual and gender-based violence remains high. As a of September 
2020, South Sudan had seen an estimated 88 percent increase in the 
number of women victims of conflict-related sexual violence since the 
previous quarter and a 119 percent rise in the number of abductions 
since the previous quarter.\40\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \40\ Rep. of the Comm. on Human Rights in South Sudan, supra 
note 13, at 13 (Feb. 4, 2021).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In addition, rural communities often abducted women and children 
during cattle raids.\41\ Girls who are abducted have been reportedly 
``forced into sexual slavery, tortured and repeatedly gang raped.'' 
\42\ Perpetrators of forced marriage and sexual violence include 
security forces, community-based militias, civil defense groups, and 
other armed groups.\43\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \41\ 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, supra, 
section 5.
    \42\ Rep. of the Comm. on Human Rights in South Sudan, supra 
note 13, at 7.
    \43\ UN Refugee Agency, Position on Returns to South Sudan, 
UNHCR, October 2021, pg. 7. https://www.refworld.org/pdfid/617676f04.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Food Insecurity and Floods

    South Sudan remains one of the most food-insecure countries in the 
world.\44\ The overall food security situation deteriorated towards the 
end of 2020.\45\ This deteriorating security situation and COVID-19-
related restrictions have hampered humanitarian organizations' ability 
to deploy and respond to medical and other emergency needs in the 
area.\46\ Between April and July 2021, an estimated 7.2 million people, 
60 percent of the population, faced high levels of acute food 
insecurity.\47\ Malnutrition in particular remains a pressing issue in 
South Sudan, with approximately 1.9 million women and children acutely 
malnourished.\48\ Malnutrition levels among children under five years 
of age are above emergency thresholds in many parts of the country, and 
1.4 million children are estimated to be acutely malnourished.\49\ The 
main factors driving food insecurity and malnourishment are the ongoing 
conflict, flooding, and COVID-19.\50\ Moreover, COVID-19 mitigation 
efforts also disrupted access to supply chains for commercial and 
humanitarian assistance, further affecting food insecurity.\51\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \44\ South Sudan Humanitarian Fund Annual Report 2020, supra, 
pg. 7.
    \45\ Id.
    \46\ European Commission's Directorate-General for European 
Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, South Sudan--
Violence, Floods, Displacement in Jonglei, ECHO Daily Flash, August 
11, 2020. https://reliefweb.int/report/south-sudan/south-sudan-violence-floods-displacement-jonglei-dg-echo-ocha-media-echo-daily.
    \47\ Situation in South Sudan, supra, pg. 6.
    \48\ World Food Programme (WFP), South Sudan Situation Report, 
WFP Situation Report No. 296, October 29, 2021, pg.1. https://reliefweb.int/report/south-sudan/wfp-south-sudan-situation-report-296-29-october-2021.
    \49\ Situation in South Sudan, supra, pg. 6.
    \50\ South Sudan Humanitarian Fund Annual Report 2020, supra, 
pg. 7.
    \51\ Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Flooding has also taken its toll. In October 2021, the World Food 
Programme reported that South Sudan faced a third year of unprecedented 
flooding.\52\ The flooding was exacerbated by standing water from major 
floods in the previous two years, most of which had not fully 
receded.\53\ The most recent flooding has led to ``widespread 
displacement, destruction of livelihoods and contamination of water 
sources, compounding existing insecurity issues in many regions.'' \54\ 
The floods also destroyed crops and loss of livestock and created a 
breeding ground for life-threatening waterborne diseases, including 
typhoid and cholera.\55\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \52\ WFP South Sudan Situation Report, supra, pg.1.
    \53\ REACH Initiative, South Sudan: Flooding Trends in Counties 
of Particular Concern of Food Insecurity, December 2021, Situation 
Report, Jan. 11, 2022, pg. 2. https://reliefweb.int/report/south-sudan/south-sudan-flooding-trends-counties-particular-concern-food-insecurity-december.
    \54\ Id. at 1.
    \55\ Rep. of the Comm. on Human Rights in South Sudan, supra 
note 13, at 11.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Healthcare and COVID-19

    Access to healthcare is an issue especially during the COVID-19 
pandemic. In August 2020, the United Nations High Commissioner for 
Refugees (UNHCR) reported that ``about 56 percent of South Sudan's 
population does not have access to primary healthcare services.'' \56\ 
In addition, less than 2 percent of South Sudan's national budget is 
spent on healthcare,\57\ resulting in poorly equipped health facilities 
with limited staff.\58\ South Sudan also continues to face ``regular 
outbreaks of infectious diseases like measles, water-borne diseases 
such as diarrhea and Hepatitis E virus, and vector-borne diseases like 
malaria and yellow fever,'' in addition to the impact of the COVID-19 
pandemic.\59\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \56\ UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, Renewed 
Violence and Delayed Implementation of the Peace Agreement Severely 
Threaten Peace and Stability in South Sudan, UN Experts Note, UNHCR 
Press Release, August 14, 2020. https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=26167&LangID=E.
    \57\ World Health Organization, South Sudan--Strengthening 
Primary Health Care in Fragile Settings, WHO Newsroom, May 20, 2021. 
https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/south-sudan-2021.
    \58\ UNOCHA, South Sudan Humanitarian Needs Overview 2021, 
Humanitarian Programme Cycle 2021, Jan. 2021, pg. 12. https://www.ecoi.net/en/file/local/2045425/south_sudan_2021_humanitarian_needs_overview.pdf.
    \59\ World Health Organization, Strengthening Public Health 
Surveillance And Response Using the Third Edition Integrated Disease 
Surveillance and Response Guidelines in South Sudan, WHO Press 
Release, November 27, 2021. https://reliefweb.int/report/south-sudan/strengthening-public-health-surveillance-and-response-using-third-edition.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Economic Situation

    According to the World Bank, South Sudan is facing ``concurrent 
setbacks in the economy'' due to rising poverty, food insecurity and a 
resurgence of

[[Page 12186]]

conflict.\60\ Moreover, falling global oil prices have also affected 
South Sudan's oil revenues.\61\ South Sudan's economy is heavily oil-
dependent, with oil accounting for 90 percent of government revenue and 
nearly all exports.\62\ This situation has caused a ``great percentage 
of South Sudanese people to lose their sources of livelihood and has 
left some communities facing catastrophic needs.'' \63\ Moreover, 
urgent and essentials measures to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, 
``worsened economic conditions, disrupting livelihoods and affecting 
vulnerable households' access to markets, food and adequate income.'' 
\64\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \60\ The World Bank, South Sudan Economic Update, June 2021: 
Pathways to Sustainable Food Security, OCHA Services, July 2, 2021. 
https://reliefweb.int/report/south-sudan/south-sudan-economic-update-june-2021-pathways-sustainable-food-security.
    \61\ Id.
    \62\ South Sudan Humanitarian Needs Overview 2021 supra, pg. 12.
    \63\ South Sudan Economic Update, June 2021: Pathways to 
Sustainable Food Security, supra.
    \64\ Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 
South Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan, OCHA Services, May 2021, pg. 
2. https://reliefweb.int/report/south-sudan/south-sudan-humanitarian-response-plan-2021.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Approximately 107 F-1 nonimmigrant students from South Sudan are 
enrolled in courses at SEVP-certified U.S. academic institutions as of 
January 13, 2022. Given the extent of the humanitarian crisis in South 
Sudan, affected students whose primary means of financial support comes 
from South Sudan may need to be exempt from the normal student 
employment requirements to continue their studies in the United States. 
The humanitarian crisis has made it unfeasible for many students to 
safely return to South Sudan for the foreseeable future. Without 
employment authorization, these students may lack the means to meet 
basic living expenses.

What is the minimum course load requirement to maintain valid F-1 
nonimmigrant status under this notice?

    Undergraduate F-1 nonimmigrant students who receive on-campus or 
off-campus employment authorization under this notice must remain 
registered for a minimum of six semester or quarter hours of 
instruction per academic term.\65\ A graduate-level F-1 nonimmigrant 
student who receives on-campus or off-campus employment authorization 
under this notice must remain registered for a minimum of three 
semester or quarter hours of instruction per academic term. See 8 CFR 
214.2(f)(5)(v). Nothing in this notice affects the applicability of 
other minimum course load requirements set by the academic institution.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \65\ Undergraduate F-1 nonimmigrant students enrolled in a term 
of different duration must register for at least one half of the 
credit hours normally required under a ``full course of study.'' See 
8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(B).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In addition, an F-1 nonimmigrant student (either undergraduate or 
graduate) granted on-campus or off-campus employment authorization 
under this notice may count up to the equivalent of one class or three 
credits per session, term, semester, trimester, or quarter of online or 
distance education toward satisfying this minimum course load 
requirement, unless the course of study is in a language study 
program.\66\ See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G). An F-1 nonimmigrant student 
attending an approved private school in kindergarten through grade 12 
or public school in grades 9 through 12 must maintain ``class 
attendance for not less than the minimum number of hours a week 
prescribed by the school for normal progress toward graduation,'' as 
required under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(E). Nothing in this notice affects 
the applicability of federal and state labor laws limiting the 
employment of minors.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \66\ DHS considers students who are compliant with ICE 
coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) guidance for nonimmigrant 
students to be in compliance with regulations while such COVID-19 
guidance remains in effect. See ICE Guidance and Frequently Asked 
Questions on COVID-19, https://www.ice.gov/coronavirus (last visited 
Feb. 2022).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

May an eligible F-1 nonimmigrant student who already has on-campus or 
off-campus employment authorization benefit from the suspension of 
regulatory requirements under this notice?

    Yes. An F-1 nonimmigrant student who is a South Sudan citizen, 
regardless of country of birth (or an individual having no nationality 
who last habitually resided in South Sudan), who already has on-campus 
or off-campus employment authorization and is otherwise eligible may 
benefit under this notice, which suspends certain regulatory 
requirements relating to the minimum course load requirement under 8 
CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(A) and (B) and certain employment eligibility 
requirements under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9). Such an eligible F-1 nonimmigrant 
student may benefit without having to apply for a new Form I-766, 
Employment Authorization Document (EAD). To benefit from this notice, 
the F-1 nonimmigrant student must request that the designated school 
official (DSO) enter the following statement in the remarks field of 
the student's Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) 
record, which the student's Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for 
Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status, will reflect:

    Approved for more than 20 hours per week of [DSO must insert 
``on-campus'' or ``off-campus,'' depending upon the type of 
employment authorization the student already has] employment 
authorization and reduced course load under the Special Student 
Relief authorization from [DSO must insert the beginning date of the 
notice or the beginning date of the student's employment, whichever 
date is later] until [DSO must insert either the student's program 
end date, the current EAD expiration date (if the student is 
currently authorized for off-campus employment), or the end date of 
this notice, whichever date comes first].

Must the F-1 nonimmigrant student apply for reinstatement after 
expiration of this special employment authorization if the student 
reduces his or her ``full course of study''?

    No. DHS will deem an F-1 nonimmigrant student who receives and 
comports with the employment authorization permitted under this notice 
to be engaged in a ``full course of study'' \67\ for the duration of 
the student's employment authorization, provided that a qualifying 
undergraduate level F-1 nonimmigrant student remains registered for a 
minimum of six semester or quarter hours of instruction per academic 
term, and a qualifying graduate level F-1 nonimmigrant student remains 
registered for a minimum of three semester or quarter hours of 
instruction per academic term.\68\ See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(5)(v) and 
(f)(6)(i)(F). DHS will not require such students to apply for 
reinstatement under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(16) if they are otherwise 
maintaining F-1 nonimmigrant status.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \67\ See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6).
    \68\ Undergraduate F-1 nonimmigrant students enrolled in a term 
of different duration must register for at least one half of the 
credit hours normally required under a ``full course of study.'' See 
8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(B).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Will an F-2 dependent (spouse or minor child) of an F-1 nonimmigrant 
student covered by this notice be eligible to apply for employment 
authorization?

    No. An F-2 spouse or minor child of an F-1 nonimmigrant student is 
not authorized to work in the United States and, therefore, may not 
accept employment under the F-2 nonimmigrant status. See 8 CFR 
214.2(f)(15)(i).

[[Page 12187]]

Will the suspension of the applicability of the standard student 
employment requirements apply to an individual who receives an initial 
F-1 visa and makes an initial entry in the United States after the 
effective date of this notice in the Federal Register?

    No. The suspension of the applicability of the standard regulatory 
requirements only applies to F-1 nonimmigrant students who meet the 
following conditions:
    (1) Are citizens of South Sudan, regardless of country of birth (or 
individuals having no nationality who last habitually resided in South 
Sudan);
    (2) Were lawfully present in the United States in F-1 nonimmigrant 
status under section 101(a)(15)(F)(i) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 
1101(a)(15)(F)(i), on the date of publication of this notice;
    (3) Are enrolled in an academic institution that is SEVP-certified 
for enrollment of F-1 nonimmigrant students;
    (4) Are maintaining F-1 nonimmigrant status; and
    (5) Are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of 
the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan.
    An F-1 nonimmigrant student who does not meet all these 
requirements is ineligible for the suspension of the applicability of 
the standard regulatory requirements (even if experiencing severe 
economic hardship as a direct result of the humanitarian crisis in 
South Sudan).

Does this notice apply to a continuing F-1 nonimmigrant student who 
departs the United States after the effective date of this notice in 
the Federal Register and who needs to obtain a new F-1 visa before 
returning to the United States to continue an educational program?

    Yes. This notice applies to such an F-1 nonimmigrant student, but 
only if the DSO has properly notated the student's SEVIS record, which 
will then appear on the student's Form I-20. The normal rules for visa 
issuance remain applicable to a nonimmigrant who needs to apply for a 
new F-1 visa in order to continue their educational program in the 
United States.

Does this notice apply to elementary school, middle school, and high 
school students in F-1 status?

    Yes. However, this notice does not by itself reduce the required 
course load for F-1 nonimmigrant students from South Sudan enrolled in 
private kindergarten through grade 12, or public-school grades 9 
through 12. Such students must maintain the minimum number of hours of 
class attendance per week prescribed by the academic institution for 
normal progress toward graduation. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(E). The 
suspension of certain regulatory requirements related to employment 
through this notice is applicable to all eligible F-1 nonimmigrant 
students regardless of educational level. Eligible F-1 nonimmigrant 
students from South Sudan enrolled in an elementary school, middle 
school, or high school may benefit from the suspension of the 
requirement in 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)(i) that limits on-campus employment to 
20 hours per week while school is in session. Nothing in this notice 
affects the applicability of federal and state labor laws limiting the 
employment of minors.

On-Campus Employment Authorization

Will an F-1 nonimmigrant student who receives on-campus employment 
authorization under this notice be authorized to work more than 20 
hours per week while school is in session?

    Yes. For an F-1 nonimmigrant student covered in this notice, the 
Secretary is suspending the applicability of the requirement in 8 CFR 
214.2(f)(9)(i) that limits an F-1 nonimmigrant student's on-campus 
employment to 20 hours per week while school is in session. An eligible 
F-1 nonimmigrant student has authorization to work more than 20 hours 
per week while school is in session, if the DSO has entered the 
following statement in the remarks field of the SEVIS student record, 
which will be reflected on the student's Form I-20:

    Approved for more than 20 hours per week of on-campus employment 
and reduced course load, under the Special Student Relief 
authorization from [DSO must insert the beginning date of this 
notice or the beginning date of the student's employment, whichever 
date is later] until [DSO must insert the student's program end date 
or the end date of this notice, whichever date comes first].

    To obtain on-campus employment authorization, the F-1 nonimmigrant 
student must demonstrate to the DSO that the employment is necessary to 
avoid severe economic hardship directly resulting from the humanitarian 
crisis in South Sudan. An F-1 nonimmigrant student authorized by the 
student's DSO to engage in on-campus employment by means of this notice 
does not need to file any applications with U.S. Citizenship and 
Immigration Services (USCIS). The standard rules permitting full-time 
employment on-campus when school is not in session or during school 
vacations apply. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)(i).

Will an F-1 nonimmigrant student who receives on-campus employment 
authorization under this notice have authorization to reduce the normal 
course load and still maintain their F-1 nonimmigrant status?

    Yes. DHS will deem an F-1 nonimmigrant student who receives on-
campus employment authorization under this notice to be engaged in a 
``full course of study'' \69\ for the purpose of maintaining their F-1 
nonimmigrant student status for the duration of the on-campus 
employment if the student satisfies the minimum course load requirement 
described in this notice. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(F). However, the 
authorization to reduce the normal course load is solely for DHS 
purposes of determining valid F-1 nonimmigrant student status. Nothing 
in this notice mandates that school officials allow an F-1 nonimmigrant 
student to take a reduced course load if the reduction would not meet 
the school's minimum course load requirement for continued 
enrollment.\70\
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    \69\ See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6).
    \70\ Minimum course load requirement for enrollment in a school 
must be established in a publicly available document (e.g., catalog, 
website, or operating procedure), and it must be a standard 
applicable to all students (U.S. citizens and foreign students) 
enrolled at the school.
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Off-Campus Employment Authorization

What regulatory requirements does this notice temporarily suspend 
relating to off-campus employment?

    For an F-1 nonimmigrant student covered by this notice, as provided 
under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)(ii)(A), the Secretary is suspending the 
following regulatory requirements relating to off-campus employment:
    (a) The requirement that a student must have been in F-1 
nonimmigrant status for one full academic year in order to be eligible 
for off-campus employment;
    (b) The requirement that an F-1 nonimmigrant student must 
demonstrate that acceptance of employment will not interfere with the 
student's carrying a full course of study;
    (c) The requirement that limits an F-1 nonimmigrant student's 
employment authorization to no more than 20 hours per week of off-
campus employment while school is in session; and
    (d) The requirement that the student demonstrate that employment 
under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)(i) is unavailable or otherwise insufficient to 
meet the needs that have arisen as a result of the unforeseen 
circumstances.

[[Page 12188]]

Will an F-1 nonimmigrant student who receives off-campus employment 
authorization under this notice have authorization to reduce the normal 
course load and still maintain F-1 nonimmigrant status?

    Yes. DHS will deem an F-1 nonimmigrant student who receives off-
campus employment authorization by means of this notice to be engaged 
in a ``full course of study'' \71\ for the purpose of maintaining F-1 
nonimmigrant student status for the duration of the student's 
employment authorization if the student satisfies the minimum course 
load requirement described in this notice. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(F). 
However, the authorization for reduced course load is solely for DHS 
purposes of determining valid F-1 nonimmigrant status. Nothing in this 
notice mandates that school officials allow an F-1 nonimmigrant student 
to take a reduced course load if such reduced course load would not 
meet the school's minimum course load requirement.\72\
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    \71\ See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6).
    \72\ Minimum course load requirement for enrollment in a school 
must be established in a publicly available document (e.g., catalog, 
website, or operating procedure), and it must be a standard 
applicable to all students (U.S. citizens and foreign students) 
enrolled at the school.
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How may an eligible F-1 nonimmigrant student obtain employment 
authorization for off-campus employment with a reduced course load 
under this notice?

    An F-1 nonimmigrant student must file a Form I-765, Application for 
Employment Authorization, with USCIS to apply for off-campus employment 
authorization based on severe economic hardship directly resulting from 
the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. Filing instructions are located 
at: http://www.uscis.gov/i-765.
    Fee considerations. Submission of a Form I-765 currently requires 
payment of a $410 fee. An applicant who is unable to pay the fee may 
submit a completed Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, along with the 
Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. See 
www.uscis.gov/feewaiver. The submission must include an explanation 
about why USCIS should grant the fee waiver and the reason(s) for the 
inability to pay, and any evidence to support the reason(s). See 8 CFR 
103.7(c).
    Supporting documentation. An F-1 nonimmigrant student seeking off-
campus employment authorization due to severe economic hardship must 
demonstrate the following to the DSO:

    (1) This employment is necessary to avoid severe economic 
hardship; and
    (2) The hardship is a direct result of the humanitarian crisis 
in South Sudan.

    If the DSO agrees that the F-1 nonimmigrant student should receive 
such employment authorization, the DSO must recommend application 
approval to USCIS by entering the following statement in the remarks 
field of the student's SEVIS record, which will then appear on the 
student's Form I-20:

    Recommended for off-campus employment authorization in excess of 
20 hours per week and reduced course load under the Special Student 
Relief authorization from the date of the USCIS authorization noted 
on Form I-766 until [DSO must insert the program end date or the end 
date of this notice, whichever date comes first].

    The F-1 nonimmigrant student must then file the properly endorsed 
Form I-20 and Form I-765, according to the instructions for the Form I-
765. The F-1 nonimmigrant student may begin working off campus only 
upon receipt of the EAD from USCIS.
    DSO recommendation. In making a recommendation that a F-1 
nonimmigrant student be approved for Special Student Relief, the DSO 
certifies that:
    (a) The F-1 nonimmigrant student is in good academic standing and 
is carrying a ``full course of study'' \73\ at the time of the request 
for employment authorization;
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    \73\ See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (b) The F-1 nonimmigrant student is a South Sudan citizen, 
regardless of country of birth (or an individual having no nationality 
who last habitually resided in South Sudan), and is experiencing severe 
economic hardship as a direct result of the humanitarian crisis in 
South Sudan, as documented on the Form I-20;
    (c) The F-1 nonimmigrant student has confirmed that the student 
will comply with the reduced course load requirements of 8 CFR 
214.2(f)(5)(v) and register for the duration of the authorized 
employment for a minimum of six semester or quarter hours of 
instruction per academic term if at the undergraduate level, or for a 
minimum of three semester or quarter hours of instruction per academic 
term if the student is at the graduate level; and
    (d) The off-campus employment is necessary to alleviate severe 
economic hardship to the individual as a direct result of the 
humanitarian crisis in South Sudan.
    Processing. To facilitate prompt adjudication of the student's 
application for off-campus employment authorization under 8 CFR 
214.2(f)(9)(ii)(C), the F-1 nonimmigrant student should do both of the 
following:
    (a) Ensure that the application package includes all of the 
following documents:
    (1) A completed Form I-765;
    (2) The required fee or properly documented fee waiver request, as 
described in 8 CFR 103.7(c); and
    (3) A signed and dated copy of the student's Form I-20 with the 
appropriate DSO recommendation, as previously described in this notice; 
and
    (b) Send the application in an envelope which is clearly marked on 
the front of the envelope, bottom right-hand side, with the phrase 
``SPECIAL STUDENT RELIEF.'' Failure to include this notation may result 
in significant processing delays.
    If USCIS approves the student's Form I-765, USCIS will send the 
student a Form I-766 EAD as evidence of employment authorization. The 
EAD will contain an expiration date that does not exceed the end of the 
granted temporary relief.

Temporary Protected Status Considerations

Can an F-1 nonimmigrant student apply for temporary protected status 
(TPS) and for benefits under this notice at the same time?

    Yes. An F-1 nonimmigrant student who has not yet applied for TPS or 
other relief that reduce the student's course load per term and permits 
an increased number of work hours per week, such as Special Student 
Relief,\74\ under this notice has two options.
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    \74\ See DHS Study in the States, Special Student Relief, 
https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/students/special-student-relief 
(last visited Feb. 2022).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Under the first option, the nonimmigrant student may file the TPS 
application according to the instructions in the USCIS notice 
designating South Sudan for TPS published elsewhere in this issue of 
the Federal Register. All TPS applicants must file a Form I-821, 
Application for Temporary Protected Status with the appropriate fee (or 
request a fee waiver). Although not required to do so, if an F-1 
nonimmigrant student wants to obtain a new EAD based on their TPS 
application that is valid through November 3, 2023, and to be eligible 
for automatic EAD extensions that may be available to certain EADs with 
an A-12 or C-19 category code, they must file Form I-765 and pay the 
Form I-765 fee (or submit a Request for a Fee Waiver (Form I-912)). 
After receiving the TPS-related EAD, an F-1 nonimmigrant student may 
request that the student's

[[Page 12189]]

DSO make the required entry in SEVIS, issue an updated Form I-20, as 
described in this notice, and notate that the nonimmigrant student has 
been authorized to carry a reduced course load and is working pursuant 
to a TPS-related EAD. So long as the nonimmigrant student maintains the 
minimum course load described in this notice, does not otherwise 
violate the student's nonimmigrant status, including as provided under 
8 CFR 214.1(g), and maintains the student's TPS, then the student 
maintains F-1 nonimmigrant status and TPS concurrently.
    Under the second option, the nonimmigrant student may apply for an 
EAD under Special Student Relief by filing the Form I-765 with the 
location specified in the filing instructions. At the same time, the F-
1 nonimmigrant student may file a separate TPS application but must 
submit the TPS application according to the instructions provided in 
the Federal Register Notice designating South Sudan for TPS. The F-1 
nonimmigrant student already has applied for employment authorization 
under Special Student Relief, and may choose not to submit the Form I-
765 as part of the TPS application. However, some nonimmigrant students 
may wish to obtain a TPS EAD in light of automatic extensions that may 
be available to certain EADs with an A-12 or C-19 category code. The 
nonimmigrant student should check the appropriate box when filling out 
Form I-821 to indicate whether a TPS-related EAD is being requested. 
Again, so long as the nonimmigrant student maintains the minimum course 
load described in this notice and does not otherwise violate the 
student's nonimmigrant status, included as provided under 8 CFR 
214.1(g), the nonimmigrant will be able to maintain compliance 
requirements for F-1 nonimmigrant student status while having TPS.

When a student applies simultaneously for TPS and benefits under this 
notice, what is the minimum course load requirement while an 
application for employment authorization is pending?

    The F-1 nonimmigrant student must maintain normal course load 
requirements for a ``full course of study'' \75\ unless or until the 
nonimmigrant student receives employment authorization under this 
notice. TPS-related employment authorization, by itself, does not 
authorize a nonimmigrant student to drop below twelve credit hours, or 
otherwise applicable minimum requirements (e.g., clock hours for 
language students). Once approved for Special Student Relief employment 
authorization, the F-1 nonimmigrant student may drop below twelve 
credit hours, or otherwise applicable minimum requirements (with a 
minimum of six semester or quarter credit hours of instruction per 
academic term if at the undergraduate level, or for a minimum of three 
semester or quarter credit hours of instruction per academic term if at 
the graduate level). See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(5)(v), (f)(6), and (f)(9)(i) 
and (ii).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \75\ See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

How does a student who has received a TPS-related employment 
authorization document then apply for authorization to take a reduced 
course load under this notice?

    There is no further application process with USCIS if a student has 
been approved for a TPS-related EAD. The F-1 nonimmigrant student must 
demonstrate and provide documentation to the DSO of the direct economic 
hardship resulting from the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. The DSO 
will then verify and update the student's record in SEVIS to enable the 
F-1 nonimmigrant student with TPS to reduce the course load without any 
further action or application. No other EAD needs to be issued for the 
F-1 nonimmigrant student to have employment authorization.

Can a noncitizen who has been granted TPS apply for reinstatement of F-
1 nonimmigrant student status after the noncitizen's F-1 nonimmigrant 
student status has lapsed?

    Yes. Current regulations permit certain students who fall out of F-
1 nonimmigrant student status to apply for reinstatement. See 8 CFR 
214.2(f)(16). This provision might apply to students who worked on a 
TPS-related EAD or dropped their course load before publication of this 
notice, and therefore fell out of student status. These students must 
satisfy the criteria set forth in the student status reinstatement 
regulations.

How long will this notice remain in effect?

    This notice grants temporary relief until November 3, 2023 \76\ to 
eligible F-1 nonimmigrant students. DHS will continue to monitor the 
situation in South Sudan. Should the special provisions authorized by 
this notice need modification or extension, DHS will announce such 
changes in the Federal Register.
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    \76\ Because the suspension of requirements under this notice 
applies throughout an academic term during which the suspension is 
in effect, DHS considers an F-1 nonimmigrant student who engages in 
a reduced course load or employment (or both) after this notice is 
effective to be engaging in a ``full course of study,'' see 8 CFR 
214.2(f)(6), and eligible for employment authorization, through the 
end of any academic term for which such student is matriculated as 
of November 3, 2023, provided the student satisfies the minimum 
course load requirement in this notice. DHS also considers students 
who engage in online coursework pursuant to ICE coronavirus disease 
2019 (COVID-19) guidance for nonimmigrant students to be in 
compliance with regulations while such guidance remains in effect. 
See ICE Guidance and Frequently Asked Questions on COVID-19, 
Nonimmigrant Students & SEVP-Certified Schools: Frequently Asked 
Questions, https://www.ice.gov/coronavirus (last visited Feb. 2022).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA)

    An F-1 nonimmigrant student seeking off-campus employment 
authorization due to severe economic hardship resulting from the 
humanitarian crisis in South Sudan must demonstrate to the DSO that 
this employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship. A DSO 
who agrees that a nonimmigrant student should receive such employment 
authorization must recommend an application approval to USCIS by 
entering information in the remarks field of the student's SEVIS 
record. The authority to collect this information is in the SEVIS 
collection of information currently approved by the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) under OMB Control Number 1653-0038.
    This notice also allows an eligible F-1 nonimmigrant student to 
request employment authorization, work an increased number of hours 
while the academic institution is in session, and reduce their course 
load while continuing to maintain F-1 nonimmigrant student status.
    To apply for employment authorization, certain F-1 nonimmigrant 
students must complete and submit a currently approved Form I-765 
according to the instructions on the form. OMB has previously approved 
the collection of information contained on the current Form I-765, 
consistent with the PRA (OMB Control No. 1615-0040). Although there 
will be a slight increase in the number of Form I-765 filings because 
of this notice, the number of filings currently contained in the OMB 
annual inventory for Form I-765 is sufficient to cover the additional 
filings. Accordingly, there is no further action required under the 
PRA.

Alejandro Mayorkas,
Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
[FR Doc. 2022-04570 Filed 3-2-22; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 9111-28-P