DHS Designates Afghanistan for TPS, Expands Employment Options for Afghan Students
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas has designated Afghanistan for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, from May 20, 2022 through November 20, 2023. The registration period for eligible individuals to submit TPS applications will run for that same period, from May 20, 2022 through November 20, 2023. Eligible individuals will also be able to apply for TPS-related employment authorization documents (EADs) and travel permission during this time. Afghan nationals who entered the United States via humanitarian parole under the Operation Allies Welcome program may be eligible for TPS if they meet all stated criteria. DHS has also announced that it will suspend certain employment authorization rules for Afghan students in F-1 status who are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the current situation in Afghanistan.
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas has designated Afghanistan for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, from May 20, 2022 through November 20, 2023. According to a Federal Register notice that will be published tomorrow, the designation will permit eligible Afghan nationals and those with no nationality who last habitually resided in Afghanistan to file for TPS and for a related employment authorization document (EAD) and travel permission (known as advance parole). DHS and the Department of State have deemed the designation warranted due to the ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary temporary conditions related to security, human rights, and public health.
Afghan nationals who entered the United States via humanitarian parole under the Operation Allies Welcome program may be granted TPS if they meet all requirements for the designation.
Relatedly, DHS is also suspending certain employment authorization rules for Afghan citizens in F-1 status who are experiencing severe economic hardship due to the ongoing situation in Afghanistan. An advance copy of the Federal Register notice implementing that change is available.
TPS eligibility and application process for Afghan applicants
Afghan nationals can apply for TPS if they can demonstrate that they have continuously resided in the United States since March 15, 2022, and have been continuously physically present in the United States since May 20, 2022. Applicants must file a Form I-821 application with appropriate fee(s) (or request for fee waiver) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within the registration period from May 20, 2022 through November 20, 2023. Applicants may also apply for EADs and for travel authorization during this time, by submitting the corresponding forms and fee(s) or fee waiver request.
All individuals applying for TPS undergo security and background checks as part of determining eligibility. Biometrics collection (fingerprints) is generally required for applicants ages 14 and older.
Relaxed employment authorization rules for certain Afghan students in F-1 status
Separately, Afghan citizens in lawful F-1 student status will benefit from relaxed employment authorization rules if they are experiencing severe economic hardship due to the ongoing situation in Afghanistan. Eligible students can request employment authorization, work an increased number of hours while school is in session, and reduce their course load while continuing to maintain a “full course of study” designation. To qualify, F-1 students must establish that they:
- Are Afghan citizens (or have no nationality and last habitually resided in Afghanistan);
- Are lawfully present in the United States in F-1 status on May 20, 2022;
- Are enrolled in an academic institution that is Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified;
- Are currently maintaining F-1 status; and
- Are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the current situation in Afghanistan.
F-1 students who receive authorization from their Designated School Officer (DSO) to work off-campus must apply for an EAD by submitting the required application form and corresponding fee. F-1 students who will be working on-campus do not need to file for an EAD, but do require DSO authorization.
What this means for foreign nationals
Afghan nationals who believe they qualify for TPS should file their applications without delay to take advantage of this benefit and obtain employment authorization as quickly as possible. Those in F-1 status should contact their school’s Designated School Official (DSO) to determine whether they can avail themselves of the relaxed employment authorization standards.