Articles Posted in Extension of Stay

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By tanakawho from Tokyo, Japan (urban fragments in a raindrop) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsStudents who are present in the U.S. on an F-1 visa have limited work authorization, which includes jobs on campus and jobs within their field of study. In some cases, F-1 students may remain in the U.S. for a job after they have completed their studies. This program, known as “optional practical training” (OPT), has been the subject of litigation, based on allegations that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not follow proper rulemaking procedures when it amended the OPT rules in 2008 to allow extensions for certain people with OPT jobs. A federal judge in Washington DC vacated the amended rule in August 2015 but stayed the order for six months. In January 2016, one month before the stay was set to expire, the judge granted DHS’ request for a three-month extension to allow DHS to complete the process of amending the OPT rules again.

An F-1 student is permitted to work on campus for up to 20 hours per week while school is in session, or full-time during breaks. 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(9)(i). Off-campus work authorization is possible if an F-1 student can show “severe economic hardship” and a lack of on-campus opportunities. Id. at § 214.2(f)(9)(ii). DHS may also authorize an F-1 student, once they have completed one academic year, to work off campus for “practical training” purposes for up to 12 months. The period of training may be extended for an additional 12 months when the student advances to a higher level of education.

Internships and other types of work that are part of a specific curriculum are known as “curricular practical training” (CPT). 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(10)(i). Other work that is “directly related to the student’s major area of study” may qualify as OPT. Id. at § 214.2(f)(10)(ii). An F-1 student may be employed in an OPT job while enrolled in school, and for up to 14 months after completing their studies.

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Ebola_virus_virion.jpgThe outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in west Africa is a serious health crisis that threatens the entire region. The disease is only communicable through contact with infected bodily fluids, and therefore it is not likely to pose a major threat to people in the United States. Despite such reassurances from medical experts, some people have expressed concern regarding immigrants entering the country. Immigration laws and regulations allow officials to deny entry to people who have certain specified diseases, including EVD, or who lack certain vaccinations. Airlines are also permitted to deny service to people who have communicable diseases that appear to pose a threat to other passengers’ safety. The federal government has announced measures to assist people from the countries affected by the outbreak who are already in the U.S.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), EVD first appeared in two simultaneous outbreaks in Africa in 1976. EVD causes a hemorrhagic fever with a mortality rate of up to 90 percent. It can only be transmitted from one person to another by contact with infected bodily fluids, such as saliva or blood. The WHO declared the current outbreak to be an international public health emergency in early August 2014. Cases have been reported in at least three west African nations: Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The death toll exceeded 1,400 by the end of August.

In response to the outbreak, many countries have closed their borders or restricted access to people from affected countries. This has met with criticism from health organizations, who say that this is making the situation worse. Direct assistance from the U.S. has been sparse, but immigration authorities are offering some relief to people from these countries who are already in the U.S. This includes extensions of nonimmigrant visas, deferrals of deportation proceedings, and expedited approval of work authorizations and petitions for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. These measures make it easier for people from these countries to stay here and support themselves and their families.
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I-94_form_front.jpgU.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), began processing certain travel documents for nonimmigrant visitors electronically last year, and it recently made arrival and departure histories available online. CBP used to require all visitors to fill out a Form I-94 or I-94W, the Arrival/Departure Record, in paper format upon their arrival in the U.S. The agency hopes that electronic processing will improve efficiency and reduce costs. For individuals who are in the U.S. on an H-1B or L-1 visa, quick access to travel records may help them recapture time spent out of the country in order to extend their visas.

The I-94, in its paper form, was simply a two-part form (PDF file) with a section for “Arrival” and one for “Departure.” Upon arriving in the U.S., a nonimmigrant visitor would complete the “Arrival” section, which asks for the person’s name, country of citizenship, passport information, flight information, and contact information in the U.S. A CBP officer would review the form and give the final approval for admitting the person as a nonimmigrant visitor. Upon his or her departure from the U.S., the person would surrender the “Departure” section to a CBP officer in order to create a complete record of the person’s stay.

DHS expanded the definition of Form I-94, via a new rule published in the Federal Register in March 2013, to include an electronic format. Instead of requiring visitors to fill out the form when they arrive, DHS says that it can create an electronic version of the form with information obtained during the inspection by CBP officers, as well as information DHS already obtains from airlines, other carriers, and the Department of State. People who arrive at border points of entry by land, as opposed to air or sea, must still submit paper I-94’s. CBP says that it will continue using paper forms for refugees, asylees, and certain other classes.
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Somalia_in_its_region_(claimed).jpgThe Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on May 1, 2012 that it is re-designating Somalia for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for another eighteen months. This allows people who are present in the United States from the war- and drought-ravaged east African nation to remain in the country. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano based this decision on continuing instability in Somalia, resulting both from civil war and drought, which prevents Somali nationals from returning safely. TPS allows people to remain in the United States and obtain work authorization, provided they are not otherwise removable at the time the status is granted.

Somalia’s current problems began more than twenty years ago. The country’s last stable national government collapsed in 1991, and multiple armed factions began vying for control of all or parts of the country. Foreign powers, including Somalia’s neighbors like Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Yemen, have supported various factions in an ongoing civil war. The United States has intervened militarily in the past and offered humanitarian aid, and other countries operating under the auspices of the United Nations have maintained peacekeeping forces in Somalia.

Since 2006, Ethiopia has invaded Somalia twice, and Kenya has invaded once. The country remains divided and lacks a functioning central government. The northern part of the country has declared itself to be the independent nation of Somaliland, although no other country has recognized its independence. In 2011, Somalia began experiencing a severe drought that continued for a year, with millions of people still in crisis.
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Apamea 14 - PorticoSyria has been embroiled in a bitter conflict between government forces and civilians for over a year. Protests for government reforms encountered a massive crackdown by the Syrian military, and the conflict has spread throughout the country since then. The American Red Cross reports that hundreds of thousands of people have either fled their homes or become trapped in their homes, and that about 9,000 people, including 600 children, have lost their lives.

The international community has imposed economic sanctions on the Syrian government, which has compounded the hardship faced by most Syrians. For Syrians currently in the United States, the conflict not only means that they cannot safely return home, but that they may not receive financial assistance from their families or, in the case of students, the Syrian government. Both major federal immigration agencies, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), have offered temporary benefits to help people from Syria.

USCIS announced on March 29, 2012 that it will grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to eligible Syrians present in the United States. The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a country as eligible for TPS based on armed conflict, a natural disaster, an epidemic, or some other “extraordinary and temporary condition” that would prevent nationals of that country from safely returning there. People granted TPS cannot be removed based on their prior immigration status. They may also obtain work authorization while TPS is in effect. A TPS designation does not give a person any additional grounds to apply for a nonimmigrant visa or adjustment of status once TPS expires.

The designation of Syria as eligible for TPS will stay in effect until September 30, 2013, although the Secretary of Homeland Security could decide to extend it beyond that time. A Syrian national applying for TPS must show continuous presence in the United States since March 29, 2012. USCIS will accept TPS applications for a roughly six-month period extending through September 25, 2012.

ICE announced on April 3 that it will temporarily suspend employment restrictions on eligible Syrian students suffering economic hardship due to the conflict. This will enable them to obtain employment to support themselves and their dependents. Syrian students may obtain employment authorization if they were present in the United States on April 3 on an F-1 student visa, and if they are enrolled in an educational institution certified by ICE.
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