05/24/2021 – DHS Announces Special Student Relief Employment Benefits to Burmese Students Experiencing Severe Economic Hardship

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The following information was taken from the 2105 – 03 DHS Broadcast Message.


On May 24, 2021, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) posted a Federal Register
notice announcing the suspension of certain regulatory requirements for F-1 nonimmigrant
students from Burma (Myanmar) who are experiencing severe economic hardship as a result of
the current crisis in Burma.

This notice temporarily suspends applicable on-campus and off-campus employment regulations
for eligible Burmese students. DHS will continue to monitor the situation in Burma and will
announce any additional modifications or extensions to this notice in the Federal Register.

The notice applies exclusively to F-1 nonimmigrant students who meet all of the following
conditions:
• Are citizens of Burma, regardless of country of birth;
• Were lawfully present in the United States in an F-1 nonimmigrant status on May 25,
2021;
• Are enrolled in a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school;
• Are currently maintaining F-1 nonimmigrant status; and
• Are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the current crisis in
Burma.


The suspension of these requirements will remain in effect until Nov. 25, 2022 for Burmese
students. Please refer to the Burma Federal Register notice for more information regarding:
• The specific Special Student Relief (SSR) action effective with the notice;
• Who is covered by this SSR action;
• Why DHS took this SSR action; and
• How to apply for employment authorization under this SSR action.

For more information about SSR and when eligible students may apply, please view the What is
Special Student Relief? infographic in the Study in the States Resource Library. If you have
case-specific questions, please contact the SEVP Response Center at 703-603-3400 or 800-892-
4829, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, except federal holidays.

Disclaimer: This Broadcast Message is not a substitute for applicable legal requirements, nor is it itself a rule
or a final action by SEVP. It is not intended to, does not, and may not be relied upon to create
any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law by any party in any
administrative, civil or criminal matter.

May 24, 2021 – DHS Announces Open Registration for Temporary Protected Status for Burma

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The following News Release was taken from the USCIS Website.

Release Date 05/24/2021

New Designation Allows Eligible Burmese to Apply for TPS and Employment Authorization Documents

WASHINGTON—The Department of Homeland Security today published a Federal Register notice (FRN) designating Burma for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, effective May 25, 2021, through Nov. 25, 2022. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas previously announced on March 12 that Burma would be designated for TPS.

The designation of Burma for TPS allows an estimated 1,600 Burmese nationals (or individuals having no nationality who last habitually resided in Burma) who have been continuously residing in the United States since March 11, 2021, and continuously physically present in the United States since May 25, 2021, to file initial applications to obtain TPS. Applicants must also meet additional TPS eligibility requirements.

Individuals applying for TPS under the designation of Burma must submit an initial Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status, during the 180-day initial registration period that runs from May 25, 2021, through Nov. 22, 2021. Applicants may also be eligible to apply for TPS-related Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) and for travel authorization.

The FRN explains the procedures necessary to submit an initial registration application under the designation and apply for an EAD.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on TwitterInstagramYouTubeFacebook and LinkedIn.

India Has Been Added to the Presidential Proclamation Suspending Entry to the US of Certain Foreign Nationals

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On April 30th, President Biden signed a Presidential Proclamation suspending the entry of certain non-immigrants from entering the US who were physically present in India 14 days preceding their entry to the United States. This Proclamation goes into effect on Tuesday, May 4 at 12:01 a.m. US Citizens, Legal Permanent Residents, and Immigrants are not subject to this order. Additional exceptions can be found on the State Department’s website.

An excerpt from the US Department of State regarding National Interest Exceptions is pasted below:

“The Secretary of State has determined that the travel of the following individuals is in the national interest for purposes of approving exceptions under the geographic COVID Presidential Proclamations, including those subject to restrictions under this Proclamation:

  • Students and certain academics covered by exchange visitor programs. Students subject to these geographic COVID proclamations due to their presence in India, China, Iran, Brazil, or South Africa, may qualify for a National Interest Exception only if their academic program begins August 1, 2021 or later. Students with valid F-1 and M-1 visas intending to begin or continue an academic program commencing August 1, 2021 or later do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual National Interest Exception to travel. They may enter the United States no earlier than 30 days before the start of their academic studies. Students seeking to apply for new F-1 or M-1 visas should check the status of visa services at the nearest embassy or consulate; those applicants who are found to be otherwise qualified for an F-1 or M-1 visa will automatically be considered for a national interest exception to travel.”

Please contact ISSO for any questions you may have regarding how this may impact you.

A Message Regarding USCIS Announcement on e-Filing Form I-765

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  • USCIS has announced on 4/12/2021 that F-1 students choosing to apply  for Optional Practical Training (OPT) are now eligible to file form I-765 online. This new provision refers specifically  and ONLY to  the following OPT categories:
    • 24-Month STEM OPT under I-765 eligibility code (c)(3)(C)
    • Post-Completion OPT under under I-765 eligibility code (c)(3)(B)
    • Pre-completion OPT under I-765 eligibility code ( c)(3)(A)

However, until additional information is available, the ISSO advises eligible applicants to continue to submit paper applications via mail to USCIS following existing instructions on our website. Paper filings continue to be accepted by USCIS. The ISSO will monitor announcements and clarifications issued by USCIS and will continue to keep you informed of any new developments concerning the filing of OPT.

Upcoming Workshop: Understanding Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

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Understanding Temporary Protected Status

Presented by: Attorney Dan Berger | Curran, Berger & Kludt Immigration Law

Wednesday, April 7, 4pm ET

Registration required

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas recently announced Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Venezuela and Burma (Myanmar), as well as re-designation of TPS for Syria.

For international students in F-1 status and exchange visitors in J-1 status, it may be advantageous to maintain continued F-1 or J-1 status in addition to filing for TPS.

The session will include:

·         Overview of Temporary Protected Status

·         How and when to register for TPS

·         Considerations about retaining dual status

Students and DSOs from area schools are welcome to attend.

USCIS Posts a Memo Extending Flexibility to Certain Applicants Filing Form I-765

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On February 26, 2021 USCIS announced flexibilities to certain applicants filing Form I-765 for applicants filing between October 1, 2020 through May 1, 2021. Highlights of the memo include:

  • Ability to re-apply following USCIS denial: Students may be eligible to re-file the Form I-765 if the original petition was filed between October 1, 2020 through May 1, 2021 and USCIS subsequently rejected it. Please contact ISSO immediately for more information on eligibility and process.
  • 14-Month OPT period flexibilities: Students may be eligible to file for an EAD Correction if they were not granted the full 12-months of OPT validity due to USCIS processing times and the requirement that the OPT end date may not be more than 14 months from the program completion date. If you think you may be eligible for this, please contact ISSO immediately for more information.
  • Missing signatures: USCIS will send a Request for Evidence (RFE) rather than rejecting the application.

To read the full memo, please refer to the USCIS Extends Flexibilities for I-765 page: https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-extends-flexibilities-to-certain-applicants-filing-form-i-765-for-opt

09/19/2021 – Continuation of Documentation for Beneficiaries of Temporary Protected StatusDesignations for El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, Honduras, and Nepal

DHS published a Federal Register notice (FRN) announcing that beneficiaries under the TPS designations for El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan will retain their TPS while the preliminary injunction in Ramos remains in effect, provided their TPS is not withdrawn because of individual ineligibility. In compliance with the injunction, DHS has automatically extended the validity of Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) and other TPS-related documentation for TPS beneficiaries affected by the injunction through [Dec. 31, 2022]. If necessary, DHS will continue to issue appropriate future notices to continue its compliance with court orders.

https://public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2021-19617.pdf?utm_source=federalregister.gov&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=pi+subscription+mailing+list

SCAM ALERT: SCAMMERS FRAUDENTLY CLAIMING TO BE SEVP CONTACTING INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

ISSO has been informed via a SEVP Broadcast Message on December 9, 2020, that there is a “spoofing scam involving individuals using the SEVP Response Center (SRC) phone numbers (703-603-3400 and 800-892-4829) and claiming to be SRC representatives. The fraudulent callers are inquiring about Form I-94 documents and asking students to provide information regarding monetary transactions.”

If you receive a call from an individual claiming to be calling on behalf of the SEVP Response Center, or any other government agency, proceed cautiously. An agent from the US Government will NEVER contact you by phone to:
• Disclose your confidential information (passport #, date of birth, etc.) – disclosing this information to you is a tactic used by scammers to get you to believe they are “true” agents/officials
• Ask for money or confidential information including: debit/credit/GIFT CARD numbers, passport number, Social Security Number (SSN), I-94 number, bank account numbers, etc. – this is a sign of a typical scam!
• Require you to purchase a gift card, withdraw funds from your bank account, etc.
• Threaten to deport you or arrest you unless you do exactly as they say
• Instruct you that you do not have the right to hang up the phone

If you receive a scam call, keep calm, do not provide ANY information, hang up the phone and contact ISSO.

Source: Broadcast Message: Fraud Advisory – Scammers Using SEVP Phone Numbers to Target International Students. Student & Exchange Visitor Program. Department of Homeland Security.

Proposed Rule Published by USDHS to Eliminate D/S

On September 25, 2020, the US Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) published the  Proposed Rule 85 FR 60526 to eliminate duration of status (D/S) for F-1 students and their F-2 dependents, and J-1 exchange visitors (EV) (including students, researchers/professors, and short-term scholars) and their J-2 dependents. One of the items of this proposed rule requires that individuals in nonimmigrant F-1, F-2, J-1 and J-2 status, seeking admission to the U.S., would be assigned a fixed expiration date of their status and stay in the U.S.  instead of D/S (the duration of the academic or research program).  This new proposed rule  would require nonimmigrant  F-1 students  and J-1 EV   to submit a form, application fee and supporting documents to USCIS in order  to request  extensions of stay  if they need additional time to complete their  academic or research program, begin a new program or to apply for post-completion employment authorization like OPT or STEM OPT. For more details on the proposed rule and procedures to comment on it, please refer to this  NAFSA Summary.  

Please note that this is a proposed rule, it does not take effect immediately and nothing has changed yet. The public has a 30-day period until October 26, 2020 to comment on this proposal, after which a final rule may be published.   UMass Lowell, the UMass University system, our peer institutions and professional associations representing the field of higher and international education and international exchange are now carefully evaluating the Proposed Rule and will soon submit comments to USDHS. We will continue share updated information as soon as it becomes available. 

United States: New Public Charge Rule, updated 1/23/2020

Proposed effective date October 15, 2019, https://www.uscis.gov/greencard/public-charge.

  • Under a new regulation, applicants for adjustment of status will undergo a closer review of their personal circumstances to determine whether they have used “or” are likely to need certain federal public benefits in the future.
  • Nonimmigrants (i.e., F-1, J-1, H-1B, O-1, TN, etc.) who have used certain federal public benefits after their admission to the United States may be denied an extension of stay or change of status. 
  • At this point, we understand that it may not impact those with pending applications for adjustment of status, change of status or extensions of stay filed before the above-mentioned effective date.  But you should check with an attorney to review the particulars of your  situation to evaluate potential risks.
  • Some of the benefit programs that are impacted are (SSI, TANF, SNAP, and section 8 vouchers and rental assistance, among others).
  • Feel free to consult with an attorney for more detailed guidance, https://www.uml.edu/Immigration-Resources/legal-help.aspx.   You may also want to check these websites https://www.masslegalservices.org/publiccharge and https://www.ilrc.org/sites/default/files/resources/overview_of_public_charge-20181214.pdf.  This type of information changes regulary, so the best course of action is always to check in with an attorney as per above.
  • The ISSO does not provide official advice on Public Charge matters.