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Practice Alert: DHS Announces Procedures for Afghan TPS Applications and Issues Special Student Relief Notice for Afghan F-1 Students

The Pinjuh Law Firm, LLC > Immigration News > News > Practice Alert: DHS Announces Procedures for Afghan TPS Applications and Issues Special Student Relief Notice for Afghan F-1 Students

AILA Doc. No. 22052000 | Dated May 20, 2022

Application Process for Afghans Seeking TPS

On May 20, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security announced the application procedures for Afghan nationals seeking Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in the Federal Register. DHS had previously announced the designation of Afghanistan for TPS on March 15, 2022, and today’s announcement confirms the process for seeking TPS and related immigration benefits, such as employment and travel authorization. The Federal Register notice provides the following information:

  • Designation of Afghanistan for TPS: The 18-month designation of Afghanistan for TPS is effective on May 20, 2022, and will remain in effect for 18 months, through November 20, 2023. Eligible applicants may submit their applications at any time during the filing period. DHS estimates that approximately 72,500 Afghans will be eligible for TPS. A TPS recipient may remain in the United States for the period during which the TPS designation is in effect and apply for work and travel authorization.
  • Requirements: To qualify for TPS, an applicant must meet established criteria, including:
    • Continuous physical presence in the United States since the effective date of the country’s TPS designation (May 20, 2022);
    • Continuous residence in the United States since the date specified by the DHS Secretary (March 15, 2022); and
    • Admissibility to the United States (though some admissibility criteria may be waived).
  • Filing Procedure: It is anticipated that DHS’s TPS webpage will be updated to provide specific information for Afghan nationals and that applicants will be able to file Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status, online or through the Chicago or Phoenix lockboxes. The application fees are $50 for the Form I-821 and $85 for the biometrics fee (for applicants 14 years of age and older). Fee waivers may be requested by submitting Form I-912. Applicants will be scheduled for biometrics processing unless USCIS waives the requirement.
  • Employment and Travel Authorization: TPS applicants may also request employment authorization by filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. The application may also be filed online and the filing fee is currently $410 (unless waived). Travel authorization may be requested by filing Form I-131, Application for Travel Document (the filing fee is currently $575). Form I-131 is not currently available for online filing.

For more information on fee waivers, practitioners should review the USCIS fee waiver web page and USCIS fee waiver policy guidance.

It is recommended that Afghan nationals who entered via Operation Allies Welcome, and who were paroled into the United States, consult with a qualified professional to determine whether obtaining TPS will impact access to resettlement services or other public benefits.

Special Student Relief Provisions for Afghan F-1 Students

In a concurrently published Federal Register notice, DHS announced that it is suspending certain regulatory requirements for F-1 nonimmigrant Afghan students who are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the current situation in Afghanistan. This suspension of the employment limitations is also available through November 20, 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 the notice. In general, undergraduate F-1 nonimmigrant students who receive on-campus or off-campus employment authorization under the Federal Register notice must remain registered for a minimum of six semester or quarter hours of instruction per academic term.

  • Eligibility: The Special Student Relief (SSR) provisions apply exclusively to F-1 nonimmigrant students who meet the following conditions:
    • Citizens of Afghanistan regardless of country of birth (or individuals having no nationality who last habitually resided in Afghanistan);
    • Lawfully present in the United States in F-1 nonimmigrant status on the date of publication of the Federal Register notice (May 20, 2022);
    • Enrolled in an academic institution that is Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified for enrollment for F-1 nonimmigrant students;
    • Maintaining F-1 nonimmigrant status; and
    • Experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the current situation in Afghanistan.
  • Procedure: 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 current situation in Afghanistan. To facilitate prompt adjudication, the F-1 nonimmigrant student should submit the following:
    • A properly completed and signed Form I-765;
    • The required fee ($410) or a fee waiver request on Form I-912; and
    • A signed and dated copy of the student’s Form I-20 with the appropriate DSO recommendation, as described in the Federal Register notice.

The Federal Register notice indicated that F-1 students should 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.” DHS indicated that failure to include this notation may result in significant processing delays.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 22052000.

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