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2021

Education Department Updates HEERF Policy To Allow Grants for Undocumented and International Students

May 11, 2021
On May 11, 2021, the Department of Education (DoEd) released an updated set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III (HEERF III) grants under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Notably, the FAQs reverse a narrow position that had been taken by DoEd under the former Trump administration, and the policy now allows "Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients, other DREAMers, and similar undocumented students" as well as "international students" to receive HEERF grants.
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DHS Extends REAL ID Deadline to 2023

May 3, 2021
The Department of Homeland Security extended until May 3, 2023 the deadline for having a REAL ID-compliant ID that can be used for entering federal facilities, boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft, or entering nuclear power plants.
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Biden Signs India COVID-19 Entry Proclamation

May 1, 2021
On April 30, 2021, President Biden signed a proclamation effective May 4, 2021, which bars entry of travelers coming from India in a way similar to the previous geographic COVID-19 proclamations. On April 30, 2021 the Department of State included India in the National Interest Exception (NIE) policies that cover China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland.
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Revised Form ETA-9141 Required as of May 3, 2021

April 30, 2021
A revised Form ETA-9141, Application for Prevailing Wage Determination, must be used starting May 3, 2021. Any cases that had been initiated in FLAG and not submitted prior to 6:00 a.m. EST on May 3, 2021 will be deleted and a new application using the revised Form ETA-9141 will need to be created. Visit NAFSA's page for PDFs of the revised form and instructions, and links to a recorded Office of Foreign Labor Certification webinar held on April 27, 2021.
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USCIS Restores Deference in EB Petition Extension Adjudications

April 27, 2021
A revision to the USCIS Policy Manual restores a certain amount of deference to employment-based (EB) petition extension adjudications, and requires adjudicators to "obtain supervisory approval before deviating from a prior approval in their final decision."
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DOS Expands NIE Policy to China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland

April 27, 2021
On April 26, 2021, DOS updated its National Interest Exception (NIE) page to expand certain NIE eligibilities to China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland.
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DHS Seeks Comments on Improving USCIS Regulations, Policies, and Services

April 22, 2021
"The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is seeking comments from the public on how U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can reduce administrative and other barriers and burdens within its regulations and policies, including those that prevent foreign citizens from easily obtaining access to immigration services and benefits. This effort will help DHS identify process improvements for USCIS, with benefits for state, local, and tribal governments, for businesses (including small businesses and startups), for educational institutions of all kinds, for nonprofits, and for individuals." Comments are due on or before May 19, 2021.
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DHS Notices Establish Special Student Relief for Venezuelan and Syrian F-1 Students

April 22, 2021
DHS Federal Register notices establish Special Student Relief for Venezuelan and Syrian F-1 students, effective April 22, 2021.
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DC Appeals Court Sets Briefing Schedule in WashTech OPT Litigation

April 13, 2021
On January 29, 2021, WashTech filed a notice of appeal with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, to challenge the D.C. District Court's January 28, 2021 decision which had concluded that both the standard 12-month OPT and the STEM OPT extension programs were lawfully within DHS's authority to promulgate. On March 26, 2021, the appeals court set a briefing schedule for the parties. Appellant Washtech's brief is due 05/05/2021 and Appellee USCIS's reply brief is due 06/04/2021.
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USCIS Announces Availability of Online Filing for OPT Applications

April 12, 2021
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 12, 2021 "that F-1 students seeking optional practical training (OPT) can now file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, online." USCIS also announced they will present a webinar on the online filing of F-1 OPT applications, to be held on Thursday, April 22, 2021. Visit NAFSA's page for additional details.
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