[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 112 (Friday, June 10, 2011)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 33970-33974]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-14482]


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DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

8 CFR Part 214

[Docket No. ICEB-2011-0003]
RIN 1653-ZA03


Employment Authorization for Libyan F-1 Nonimmigrant Students 
Experiencing Severe Economic Hardship as a Direct Result of Civil 
Unrest in Libya Since February 2011

AGENCY: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; DHS.

ACTION: Notice of suspension of applicability of certain requirements.

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[[Page 33971]]

SUMMARY: This notice informs the public of the suspension of certain 
regulatory requirements for F-1 nonimmigrant students whose country of 
citizenship is Libya and who are experiencing severe economic hardship 
as a direct result of the civil unrest in Libya since February 2011. 
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is taking action to provide 
relief to these F-1 students so they may obtain 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 student status. F-1 students who are granted employment 
authorization by means of this notice will be deemed to be engaged in a 
``full course of study'' for the duration of their employment 
authorization, provided that they satisfy the minimum course load 
requirement described in this notice. This suspension of certain 
regulatory requirements will automatically terminate on December 31, 
2011, without further notice.

DATES: This notice is effective June 10, 2011 and will remain in effect 
until December 31, 2011.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Louis Farrell, Director, Student and 
Exchange Visitor Program; MS 5600, U.S. Immigration and Customs 
Enforcement, 500 12th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20536-5600; (703) 
603-3400. This is not a toll-free number. Program information can be 
found at http://www.ice.gov/sevis/.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

What action is DHS taking under this notice?

    The Secretary of Homeland Security is exercising her authority 
under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9) to temporarily suspend the applicability of 
certain requirements governing on-campus and off-campus employment. F-1 
students granted employment authorization by means of this notice will 
be deemed to be engaged in a ``full course of study'' for the duration 
of their employment authorization if they satisfy the minimum course 
load set forth in this notice. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(F).

Who is covered by this notice?

    This notice applies exclusively to F-1 students whose country of 
citizenship is Libya and who were lawfully present in the United States 
in F-1 nonimmigrant status on February 1, 2011 under section 
101(a)(15)(F)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 
1101(a)(15)(F)(i) and (1) are enrolled in an institution that is 
Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certified for enrollment 
for F-1 students; (2) are currently maintaining F-1 status; and (3) are 
experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the civil 
unrest in Libya since February 2011.
    This notice applies to both undergraduate and graduate students, as 
well as elementary school, middle school, and high school students. The 
notice, however, applies differently to elementary school, middle 
school, and high school students, as discussed in the question ``Does 
this notice apply to elementary school, middle school, and high school 
students in F-1 status?''
    F-1 students covered by this notice who transfer to other academic 
institutions that are SEVP-certified for enrollment of F-1 students 
remain eligible for the relief provided by means of this notice.
    Further, this notice regarding employment authorization does not 
impact other eligibility requirements for Federal Work-Study jobs.

How long will this notice remain in effect?

    This notice grants temporary relief until December 31, 2011 to a 
specific group of F-1 students whose country of citizenship is Libya. 
DHS will continue to monitor the situation in Libya. Should the special 
provisions authorized by this notice need to be modified or extended, 
DHS will announce such changes in the Federal Register.

Why is DHS taking this action?

    DHS is taking action to provide relief to F-1 students whose 
country of citizenship is Libya and who are experiencing severe 
economic hardship as a direct result of the civil unrest in Libya since 
February 2011. These students may obtain 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 status.
    Since the government crackdown of protests in the east of the 
country in February, there has been armed conflict in Libya between 
loyalists of the current government led by Muammar Qadhafi and 
opposition forces calling for his departure. Approximately 2,000 F-1 
students whose country of citizenship is Libya are enrolled in schools 
in the United States. Given the current conditions in Libya, affected 
F-1 students whose primary means of financial support comes from the 
Libyan Government or family members in Libya may now need to be exempt 
from the normal student employment requirements to be able to continue 
their studies in the United States and meet basic living expenses. The 
suspension of all commercial air travel to Libya, violence and 
uncertainty at land borders, and an overall lack of security, have made 
it unfeasible for students to safely return to Libya for the 
foreseeable future. To ameliorate the hardship arising from the lack of 
financial support and facilitate the students' continued studies, DHS 
is suspending the applicability of certain requirements governing on-
campus and off-campus employment.

What is the minimum course load requirement set forth in this notice?

    Undergraduate students who are granted on-campus or off-campus 
employment authorization under this notice must remain registered for a 
minimum of six semester/quarter hours of instruction per academic term. 
Graduate-level F-1 students who are granted on-campus or off-campus 
employment authorization under this notice must remain registered for a 
minimum of three semester/quarter hours of instruction per academic 
term. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(5)(v). In addition, F-1 students (both 
undergraduate and 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 student's course of study is in a 
language study program. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G). Elementary school, 
middle school, and high school students 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).

May Libyan F-1 students who already have on-campus or off-campus 
employment authorization benefit from the suspension of regulatory 
requirements under this notice?

    Yes. Libyan F-1 students who already have on-campus or off-campus 
employment authorization may benefit under this notice, which suspends 
regulatory requirements relating to the minimum course load requirement 
under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(A) and (B) and the employment eligibility 
requirements under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9) as specified in this notice. Such 
Libyan F-1 students may benefit without having to apply for a new Form 
I-766, Employment Authorization Document (EAD). To benefit from this 
notice, the

[[Page 33972]]

student must request that his or her Designated School Official (DSO) 
enter the following statement in the remarks field of the Student and 
Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) student record, which will 
be reflected on the student's Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for 
Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status:

    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 
employment] until [DSO must insert the student's program end date, 
December 31, 2011, or the current EAD expiration date (if the 
student is currently working off campus), whichever date comes 
first].

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

    No. F-1 students who are granted employment authorization under 
this notice will be deemed to be engaged in a ``full course of study'' 
for the duration of their employment authorization, provided that 
qualifying undergraduate level F-1 students remain registered for a 
minimum of six semester/quarter hours of instruction per academic term, 
and qualifying graduate level F-1 students remain registered for a 
minimum of three semester/quarter hours of instruction per academic 
term. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(5)(v) and (f)(6)(i)(F). Such students will not 
be required to apply for reinstatement under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(16) if they 
are otherwise maintaining F-1 status.

Will F-2 dependents (spouse or minor children) of F-1 students covered 
by this notice be eligible to apply for employment authorization?

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

Will the suspension of the applicability of the standard student 
employment requirements apply to aliens who are granted an F-1 visa 
after this notice is published in the Federal Register?

    No. The suspension of the applicability of the standard regulatory 
requirements only applies to those F-1 students whose country of 
citizenship is Libya and who were lawfully present in the United States 
in F-1 nonimmigrant status on February 1, 2011 under section 
101(a)(15)(F)(i) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(F)(i) and (1) are 
enrolled in an institution that is SEVP certified for enrollment of F-1 
students; (2) are currently maintaining F-1 status; and (3) are 
experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the civil 
unrest in Libya. F-1 students who do not meet these requirements do not 
qualify for the suspension of the applicability of the standard 
regulatory requirements, even if they are experiencing severe economic 
hardship as a direct result of the civil unrest in Libya since February 
2011.

Does this notice apply to an F-1 student who departs the United States 
after this notice is published in the Federal Register and who needs to 
obtain a new F-1 visa before he or she may return to the United States 
to continue his or her educational programs?

    Yes, provided that the DSO has properly notated the student's SEVIS 
record, which will then appear on the student's Form I-20. Subject to 
the specific terms of this notice, the normal rules for visa issuance 
(including those related to public charge and nonimmigrant intent) 
remain applicable to nonimmigrants that need to apply for a new F-1 
visa in order to continue their educational programs in the United 
States.

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

    This notice does not reduce the required course load for elementary 
school, middle school, or high school students in F-1 status. Such 
students must maintain the minimum number of hours of class attendance 
per week prescribed by the school for normal progress toward 
graduation. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(E). Eligible F-1 students from 
Libya enrolled in an elementary school, middle school, or high school 
do 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. DHS notes, however, that the suspension of 
this requirement is solely for DHS purposes of determining valid F-1 
status. Nothing in this notice affects the applicability of federal and 
state labor laws limiting the employment of minors. With regard to off-
campus employment, elementary school, middle school, and high school 
students benefit from the suspension of the requirement that a student 
must have been in F-1 status for one full academic year in order to be 
eligible for off-campus employment and the requirement that limits a 
student's work authorization to no more than 20 hours per week of off-
campus employment while school is in session. With regard to off-campus 
employment, nothing in this notice affects the applicability of federal 
and state labor laws limiting the employment of minors. The suspension 
of certain regulatory requirements related to employment through this 
notice is applicable to all eligible F-1 students--regardless of 
educational level--as required by the regulations at 8 CFR 
214.2(f)(9)(i) and (f)(9)(ii).

On-Campus Employment Authorization

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

    Yes. For F-1 students 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 student's on-campus employment to 20 hours per week 
while school is in session. A student whose country of citizenship is 
Libya and who is experiencing severe economic hardship as result of 
civil unrest in Libya since February 1, 2011 is authorized to work more 
than 20 hours per week while school is in session if his or her 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 
authorization and reduced course load, under the Special Student 
Relief authorization from [DSO must insert the beginning date of 
employment] until [DSO must insert the student's program end date or 
December 31, 2011, whichever date comes first].

To obtain on-campus employment authorization, the student must 
demonstrate to his or her DSO that the employment is necessary to avoid 
severe economic hardship that is directly resulting from the civil 
unrest in Libya. A student authorized by his or her DSO to engage in 
on-campus employment by means of this notice does not need to make any 
filing with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The 
standard rules permitting fulltime work on-campus when school is not in 
session or during school vacations apply. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)(i).

[[Page 33973]]

Will F-1 students who are granted on-campus employment authorization 
under this notice be authorized to reduce their normal course load and 
still maintain their F-1 nonimmigrant status?

    Yes. F-1 students who are granted on-campus employment 
authorization under this notice will be deemed to be engaged in a 
``full course of study'' for the purpose of maintaining their F-1 
status for the duration of their on-campus employment if they satisfy 
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 status. Nothing in 
this notice mandates that a school allow a student to take a reduced 
course load if the reduction would not meet the school's minimum course 
load requirement for continued enrollment.\1\
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    \1\ Minimum course load requirement for enrollment in a school 
must be established in a publicly available document (e.g., catalog, 
Web site, 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 F-1 students 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 status for 
one full academic year in order to be eligible for off-campus 
employment;
    (b) The requirement that an F-1 student must demonstrate that 
acceptance of employment will not interfere with the student's carrying 
a full course of study; and
    (c) The requirement that limits a student's work authorization to 
no more than 20 hours per week of off-campus employment while school is 
in session.

Will F-1 students who are granted off-campus employment authorization 
under this notice be authorized to reduce their normal course load and 
still maintain their F-1 nonimmigrant status?

    Yes. F-1 students who are granted employment authorization by means 
of this notice will be deemed to be engaged in a ``full course of 
study'' for purpose of maintaining their F-1 status for the duration of 
their employment authorization if they satisfy 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 status. Nothing in this notice 
mandates that a school allow a student to take reduced course load if 
such reduced course load would not meet the school's minimum course 
load requirement.\2\
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    \2\ Minimum course load requirement for enrollment in a school 
must be established in a publicly available document (e.g., catalog, 
Web site, 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 Libyan F-1 students obtain employment authorization for off-
campus employment with a reduced course load under this notice?

    F-1 students must file a Form I-765 Application for Employment 
Authorization with USCIS if they wish to apply for off-campus 
employment authorization based on severe economic hardship resulting 
from the civil unrest in Libya since February 1, 2011. Filing 
instructions are located at: http:[sol][sol]www.uscis.gov/i-765.
    Fee considerations. Submission of a Form I-765 currently requires 
payment of a $340 fee. If the applicant is unable to pay the fee, he or 
she must submit a written affidavit or unsworn declaration requesting a 
waiver of the fee and including the statement: ``I declare under 
penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.'' See 
http:[sol][sol]www.uscis.gov/feewaiver. The submission must include an 
explanation of why he or she should be granted the fee waiver and the 
reasons for his or her inability to pay. See 8 CFR 103.7(c).
    Supporting documentation. An F-1 student seeking off-campus 
employment authorization due to severe economic hardship must 
demonstrate to the DSO at the school where the F-1 student is enrolled 
that this employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship and 
that the hardship is resulting from the civil unrest in Libya since 
February 1, 2011. If the DSO agrees that the student should receive 
such employment authorization, he or she 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 
December 31, 2011, whichever date comes first].

    The student must then file the properly endorsed Form I-20 and Form 
I-765, according to the instructions for the Form I-765. The student 
may begin working off campus only upon receipt of the EAD from USCIS.
    DSO recommendation. In making a recommendation that a student be 
approved for Special Student Relief, the DSO certifies that:
    (a) The student is in good academic standing as determined by the 
DSO;
    (b) The student is a citizen of Libya and is experiencing severe 
economic hardship as a direct result of the civil unrest in Libya since 
February 1, 2011, as documented on the Form I-20;
    (c) The student is carrying a full course of study at the time of 
the request for employment authorization;
    (d) The student will be registered for the duration of his or her 
authorized employment for a minimum of six semester or quarter hours of 
instruction per academic term if the student is 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
    (e) The off-campus employment is necessary to alleviate severe 
economic hardship to the individual caused by the civil unrest in Libya 
since February 1, 2011.
    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 student should:
    (a) Ensure that the application package includes: (1) A completed 
Form I-765; (2) the required fee or properly documented fee waiver 
request as defined 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, the USCIS official will send the student a Form I-766 EAD as 
evidence of his or her employment authorization. The EAD will contain 
an expiration date that does not exceed the student's program end date.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    An F-1 student seeking off-campus employment authorization due to 
severe

[[Page 33974]]

economic hardship must demonstrate to the DSO at the school where he or 
she is enrolled that this employment is necessary to avoid severe 
economic hardship. If the DSO agrees that the student should receive 
such employment authorization, he or she must recommend application 
approval to USCIS by entering information in the remarks field of the 
student's SEVIS record. The authority to collect this information is 
currently contained in the SEVIS collection of information currently 
approved by OMB under OMB Control Number 1653-0038.
    This notice also allows F-1 students whose country of citizenship 
is Libya and who are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct 
result of civil unrest in Libya since February 1, 2011, to obtain 
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 student status.
    To apply for work authorization an F-1 student must complete and 
submit currently approved Form I-765 according to the instructions on 
the form. The authority to collect the information contained on the 
current Form I-765 has previously been approved by the Office of 
Management and Budget under the Paperwork Reduction Act (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.

Janet Napolitano,
Secretary.
[FR Doc. 2011-14482 Filed 6-9-11; 8:45 am]
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