As reported in a previous edition of Washington Update, the House and Senate leadership announced conferees for the upcoming conference committee on legislation to boost U.S. science and innovation in early April. However, the Senate waited until after the congressional spring recess to vote (67-27) on April 28 to approve the conferees and move the bill to the conference committee.
This week, the Senate will hold floor votes on twenty-eight motions to instruct the conferees, eight from Democrats and twenty from Republicans. Motions to instruct are non-binding procedural votes that members of Congress can use to support policy positions they would like to have in a final legislative agreement. Once the Senate completes these votes, conference negotiations will begin in earnest. Leadership offices have indicated that they hope to have a final agreement before the July congressional recess.
APLU will continue to advocate for its priorities as laid out in our letter to congressional leadership sent earlier this year.
Department of Education Expands Second Chance Pell, Prepares to Reinstate Pell Grant Eligibility for All Incarcerated Individuals
Last week, the Department of Education announced that it invited 73 additional colleges and universities to participate in the Second Chance Pell experiment, an initiative designed to expand access to Federal Pell Grants for incarcerated individuals enrolled in participating programs. Including these new sites, 200 colleges and universities participate in the initiative. When the Department made the announcement, officials also announced policy changes to help incarcerated individuals with defaulted loans.
The FAFSA Simplification Act, passed in December 2020, reinstated Pell Grant eligibility for incarcerated individuals. The Department will fully implement the legislative changes to allow all eligible students in college-in-prison programs to access Pell Grants beginning on July 1, 2023.
COVID-19 Student and Exchange Visitor Program Guidance Extended Through 2022-23 Academic Year
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced an extension of March 2020 guidance permitting international students to enroll in online courses beyond regulatory limits due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance, originally set to expire at the end of the 2021-22 academic year, will now be extended through the 2022-23 academic year.
USCIS Increases Automatic Extension Period of Work Permits for Certain Applicants
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a Temporary Final Rule (TFR) that increases the automatic extension period for employment authorization and Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) from 180 days to 540 days for most EAD renewal applicants, effective May 4, 2022 through October 15, 2025. This action is taken to help alleviate work authorization processing backlogs affecting many individuals employed by APLU institutions, such as applicants for both green cards and asylum, spouses for H-1B visas holders, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients. The increase will help prevent renewal applicants from experiencing a lapse in employment authorization/documentation while their application remains pending and USCIS works to return to normal processing times.
DHS Publishes TPS Designation for Ukraine, Sudan, and Cameroon
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published the Federal Register notice designating Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for an 18-month period, beginning April 11, 2022 and ending on October 19, 2023. The original March 3 notice by DHS listed the start date as March 1, 2022. The change in date will permit thousands of Ukrainians who arrived in the United States between March 1 and April 11 to be eligible for TPS. If granted TPS, individuals are permitted a temporary stay of deportation and temporary authorization to work in the United States. Under TPS, individuals are eligible for advance parole, allowing them to travel abroad and return to the United States, though this must be applied for separately. DHS also announced that Ukrainian students will be eligible for Special Student Relief (SSR), permitting students to obtain employment authorization, increase their work hours, and adjust their course load while maintaining their F-1 visa status.
Also on Tuesday, DHS published the Federal Register notice designating Sudan for TPS for 18 months, beginning March 1, 2022 through October 19, 2023. Under this notice, current beneficiaries of Sudan’s 2013 TPS designation received an automatic extension of their status through December 31, 2022, and are eligible to file a new TPS application under the new designation.
Last Friday, DHS announced the designation of Cameroon for TPS. Individuals residing in the United States as of April 14, 2022 will be eligible for this TPS.
House Appropriations Mark Up Schedule
CQ and Politico report the House Appropriations Committee expects to mark up spending bills in June, with subcommittee mark ups taking place between June 13 and June 22, and full committee mark ups to follow from June 22 through June 30. Under this timeline, a floor vote would occur in July. APLU advocates for programs important to public higher education institutions within seven appropriations bills. Resources on the appropriations process and APLU’s priorities can be found here.