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DHS Designates Sudan and Extends and Redesignates South Sudan for Temporary Protected Status; Expands Employment Options for South Sudan Nationals in F-1 Student Status

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced a new 18-month designation of Sudan for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), to take effect upon publication of an upcoming Federal Register notice. DHS has also extended and redesignated the neighboring country of South Sudan for TPS for an additional 18-month period, from May 3, 2022 to November 3, 2023. The registration period for new South Sudan TPS applicants will run from March 3, 2022 to November 3, 2023. Eligible individuals will also be able to apply for TPS-related employment authorization documents (EADs) and travel permission during this time. The registration period for current South Sudan TPS beneficiaries who wish to extend their benefits runs for 60 days, from March 3, 2022 to May 2, 2022. Those whose EADs expire on May 2, 2022 will receive an automatic extension through November 1, 2022.  DHS has also announced that it will suspend certain employment authorization rules for citizens of South Sudan in F-1 student visa status who are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the humanitarian crisis in that country.

The issue

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a new Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Sudan and has extended and redesignated South Sudan for TPS. It has also expanded employment options for certain South Sudan nationals in F-1 status who are experiencing severe economic hardship.

Sudan TPS

DHS has announced a new 18-month TPS designation for Sudan, to take effect upon publication of an upcoming Federal Register notice. Individuals newly eligible for TPS under the Sudan designation must have continuously resided in the United States since March 1, 2022. This includes those who benefited from the previous TPS designation for Sudan, which required continuous residence in the United States on or before January 9, 2013. TPS applicants must meet all eligibility requirements and undergo security and background checks. Those who attempt to travel to the United States after March 1, 2022, will not be eligible for TPS.

Sudan has been previously designated for TPS. In October 2017, DHS announced the termination of Sudan’s prior TPS designation effective November 2, 2018. However, due to litigation, TPS for Sudan has remained in effect to date. Existing TPS Sudan beneficiaries retain their TPS and TPS-related documents through December 31, 2022, and DHS will continue to extend the benefit and documents, as required by court order. However, these beneficiaries are also strongly encouraged to register under the new designation of Sudan to receive TPS benefits for the full 18-month period. Individuals will need to file a new application to register for TPS to avoid losing or experiencing a gap in status and work authorization.

Full details of the new TPS designation for Sudan are expected to be contained in the upcoming Federal Register notice.

South Sudan TPS

DHS has also extended and redesignated South Sudan for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, from May 3, 2022 through November 3, 2023, according to a notice published in the Federal Register. Current South Sudan TPS beneficiaries will have 60 days, from March 3, 2022 through May 2, 2022, to request an 18-month extension of status and work authorization. New applicants will have from March 3, 2022 through the November 3, 2023 end date of the redesignation period to file an initial application for TPS status and for related employment authorization documents (EADs) and travel permission. 

South Sudan TPS eligibility and application process for new applicants

South Sudan nationals can apply for TPS under this designation if they can demonstrate that they have been both continuously resident in the United States since March 1, 2022, and continuously physically present in the United States since March 3, 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 redesignation’s initial registration period from March 3, 2022 through November 3, 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. TPS and its related work authorization will be approved with a November 3, 2023 expiration date. 

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.

Re-registration process for current South Sudan TPS holders

Current South Sudan TPS beneficiaries can continue to extend their status and work authorization provided that they previously registered for TPS under the designation of South Sudan and their application was granted.

  • Who may re-register:  Re-registration is limited to those who previously registered for and were granted TPS under the designation for South Sudan.
  • When to re-register:  Current South Sudan TPS beneficiaries must submit Form I-821 to USCIS by May 2, 2022.
  • Extending employment authorization: Beneficiaries who wish to extend their employment authorization for 18 months must also submit a timely Form I-765 application for an employment authorization document (EAD) and the applicable fees (or a fee waiver application).
  • Automatic EAD extensions: For current South Sudan TPS beneficiaries, existing EADs in the A-12 or C-19 category that bear an expiration date of May 2, 2022, are automatically extended through November 1, 2022. Notwithstanding the automatic EAD extension, the individual must timely re-register for TPS for the individual to maintain his or her TPS and employment authorization. Current South Sudan TPS beneficiaries are strongly encouraged to file EAD renewal applications as early as permissible to reduce the risk of a gap in employment authorization if the new EAD card is not received by the November 1, 2022 expiration of the automatic extension period.
  • Pending TPS and/or EAD applications from prior registration period: Individuals who already have a South Sudan TPS application and/or associated EAD application pending as of March 3, 2022, do not need to file these applications again in order to benefit from the TPS extension for South Sudan. If USCIS approves the pending applications, the approval notices and document expiration dates will reflect the new, extended expiration date of November 3, 2023.

I-9 eligibility verification EAD renewals

For Form I-9 employment eligibility verification purposes, through November 1, 2022, employers may accept a South Sudan TPS-related EAD with an expiration date of May 2, 2022, based on the Federal Register notice announcing the automatic EAD extension. By November 2, 2022, when the employee’s automatically extended EAD has expired, employers are required to reverify the employee’s employment authorization on Form I-9.

Relaxed employment authorization rules for certain South Sudan students in F-1 status

DHS is also suspending certain employment authorization rules for South Sudan citizens in F-1 student status who are experiencing severe economic hardship due to the current crisis in their home country. 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. Citizens of South Sudan in F-1 student status seeking to benefit from these relaxed rules must establish that they:

  • Are lawfully present in the United States in F-1 status on March 3, 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 crisis in South Sudan. 

F-1 students who receive authorization from their Designated Service 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 apply for an EAD but do require DSO authorization to benefit from these relaxed rules. 

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