I stumbled upon an article today which discussed the impact of the new Libya Sanctions on Libyan students enrolled in U.S. universities whose tuition and living expenses are paid for by the Government of Libya.
Since 2006, the Libyan government has sent Libyan students to study in the United States. Many of these students are graduate students who move here with their families. Many of these students are pursuing graduate degrees in fields related to Libya’s more prosperous industry: energy.
Without funding from the Libyan government these students cannot complete their degrees in the U.S. Moreover, their ability to support themselves will be nearly impossible, particularly since most of their spouses and children cannot legally obtain authorization to work in the United States.
As a result of the recently imposed sanctions against the Government of Libya, all Libyan assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction are currently frozen. It has been reported that the frozen Libyan assets total $33 billion, and include funds to support the Libyan students in the United States. According to the article, the programs sponsoring the Libyan student are now applying for specific licenses from the U.S. Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to access the funds.
I would be surprised if OFAC did not move on this quickly and/or even issue a general license allowing for these transactions. I think its pretty clear that the President did not mean to target Libyan students studying abroad when he issued the executive order directing sanctions to be imposed against the Government of Libya in late February. On the other hand, I could see OFAC’s decision being held up by the U.S. Department of State.
Often times, OFAC will send a license application over to the State Department to seek their perspective on allowing or denying certain requested activities that are normally prohibited. If this occurs the decision on these license applications may take a very long time to be made. As such, these sponsorship program should make every effort to get in touch with the right people at the State Department to facilitate expedited processing of their license applications. Prior to doing this however, they should make an explicit request for expedited processing in their OFAC license application. OFAC is not required to expedite the processing of any particular license application, but they will consider a request for expedited processing if good cause is shown.
The author of this blog is Erich Ferrari, an attorney specializing in OFAC matters. If you have any questions please contact him at 202-280-6370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.