[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 2 (Monday, January 5, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 232-233]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-30868]


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DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

[DHS Docket No. ICEB-2013-0001]
RIN 1653-ZA07


Extension of Employment Authorization for Syrian F-1 Nonimmigrant 
Students Experiencing Severe Economic Hardship as a Direct Result of 
Civil Unrest in Syria Since March 2011

AGENCY: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), DHS.

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: This notice informs the public of the extension of an earlier 
notice, which suspended certain requirements for F-1 nonimmigrant 
students whose country of citizenship is Syria and who are experiencing 
severe economic hardship as a direct result of the civil unrest in 
Syria since March 2011. This notice extends the effective date of that 
notice.

DATES: This notice is effective January 5, 2015 and will remain in 
effect until September 30, 2016.

[[Page 233]]


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; email: 
sevp@ice.dhs.gov, telephone: (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 authority under 8 
CFR 214.2(f)(9) to extend the suspension of the applicability of 
certain requirements governing on-campus and off-campus employment for 
F-1 nonimmigrant students whose country of citizenship is Syria and who 
are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the 
civil unrest in Syria since March 2011. See 77 FR 20038 (April 3, 
2012). The original notice was effective from April 3, 2012 until 
October 3, 2013. A subsequent notice provided for an 18-month extension 
from October 3, 2013 through March 31, 2015. See 78 FR 36211 (June 17, 
2013). Effective with this publication, suspension of the employment 
limitations is extended for 18 months from March 31, 2015 until 
September 30, 2016.
    F-1 nonimmigrant students granted employment authorization through 
the notice will continue to be deemed to be engaged in a ``full course 
of study'' for the duration of their employment authorization, provided 
they satisfy the minimum course load requirement described in 77 FR 
20038. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(F).

Who is covered under this action?

    This notice applies exclusively to F-1 nonimmigrant students whose 
country of citizenship is Syria and who were lawfully present in the 
United States in F-1 nonimmigrant status on April 3, 2012, under 
section 101(a)(15)(F)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 
8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(F)(i); and are--
    (1) Enrolled in an institution that is Student and Exchange Visitor 
Program (SEVP)-certified for enrollment of F-1 students,
    (2) Currently maintaining F-1 status, and
    (3) Experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the 
civil unrest in Syria since March 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 (see the discussion published at 77 FR 
20040, available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-04-03/pdf/2012-7960.pdf, 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.

Why is DHS taking this action?

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) took action to provide 
temporary relief to F-1 nonimmigrant students whose country of 
citizenship is Syria and who experienced severe economic hardship 
because of the civil unrest in Syria since March 2011. See 77 FR 20038 
(April 3, 2012). It enabled these F-1 students to obtain employment 
authorization, work an increased number of hours while school was in 
session, and reduce their course load, while continuing to maintain 
their F-1 student status.
    Syria continues to experience civil unrest, with many people still 
displaced as a result. The United Nations reported in late September 
2014 that approximately 6.4 million Syrians are internally displaced. A 
number of violent extremist groups have factored prominently in the 
conflict and pose a danger to civilians. In early 2014, the Islamic 
State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) emerged as one of the most 
significant radical Islamist fighting forces. The al-Nusra Front (also 
known as the Jabhat al Nusra) represents the interests of al-Qaeda in 
Syria. These Jihadist groups have engaged in indiscriminate attacks 
including bombings and suicide attacks throughout Syria. Various other 
radical Islamist organizations have been actively engaged in armed 
resistance in Syria. Furthermore, economic sanctions imposed by the 
international community have negatively affected the whole of the 
Syrian economy. Given conditions in Syria, affected students whose 
primary means of financial support comes from Syria may 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 United States is committed to continuing to assist the people 
of Syria. DHS is therefore extending this employment authorization for 
F-1 nonimmigrant students whose country of citizenship is Syria and who 
are continuing to experience severe economic hardship as a result of 
the civil unrest since March 2011.

How do I apply for an employment authorization under the circumstances 
of this notice?

    F-1 nonimmigrant students whose country of citizenship is Syria who 
were lawfully present in the United States on April 3, 2012, and are 
experiencing severe economic hardship because of the civil unrest may 
apply for employment authorization under the guidelines described in 77 
FR 20038. This notice extends the time period during which such F-1 
students may seek employment authorization due to the civil unrest. It 
does not impose any new or additional policies or procedures beyond 
those listed in the original notice. All interested F-1 students should 
follow the instructions listed in the original notice.

Jeh Charles Johnson,
Secretary.
[FR Doc. 2014-30868 Filed 1-2-15; 8:45 am]
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