On September 13, 2012, the Special Assistant to the NSC Director, Shawn Allen, hosted a teleconference on students and school issues. Stakeholder questions and USCIS’s responses are below.
Q. Why is the government now strictly enforcing the 30-day rule of the date the Designated School Official (DSO) enters the recommendation for Optional Practical Training (OPT) into a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVIS) record deadline for filing post OPT I-765 applications? I've had a student get rejected for this and then because he had graduated and completed his program the DSO said there was no way to fix this problem and the student lost this post-graduate OPT job.
A. This inconsistent approach within USCIS to applying the 30-day rule has been identified, and applicants should see improved consistency (both within the NSC and among the service centers) and determinations more in line with the regulations going forward.
Q. We have seen situations where asylees granted refugee travel documents are unable to return to the U.S. before the expiration of their documents, in some cases resulting in the denial of their adjustment of status due to their inability to attend biometrics appointments in the U.S. In one of these cases, we had tried rescheduling the appointments, but still the case was ultimately denied. We understand that in limited circumstances, a refugee or asylee may be granted a travel document after departure from the United States (8 CFR § 223.2 (b)(2)(ii)) and that for those that have been out for more than one year, they will have to apply for parole. In such exceptional cases, where the document is processed abroad, has the NSC been requesting A-files to sustain the claim? Can you discuss the criteria considered to approve such requests?
A. In the event of an emergency, a refugee or asylee may apply for a refugee travel document at a USCIS office overseas if he or she has been out of the United States for more than one year. Issuance of a travel document is at the service’s discretion. NSC does not re-adjudicate an I-131 after it receives the form for production of the document.
Q. Can NSC confirm that re-entry permits can be used by LPRs – based on asylum or refugee status – for foreign travel to the same countries that are signatories of the UN Refugee Convention? Asylees and refugees can’t avail themselves of their consulates to obtain passports for travel, and even when they can apply for refugee travel documents, many asylees prefer having the re-entry permit for the convenience of not having to apply for two separate documents and wait. In the past, we have heard from one consulate that it would only issue visas on the refugee travel document but not on the reentry permit (they distinguished between the “green” and the “white” passports). Any guidance on this issue would be helpful.
A. USCIS understands that refugee travel documents and re-entry permits have been used in lieu of passports for entry to certain countries. However, the acceptability of these documents for this purpose is in the discretion of the individual country, and USCIS has no standing in these matters. USCIS recommends that individuals inquire with the country they hope to enter before traveling.