[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 3 (Thursday, January 5, 2017)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 1185-1192]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-30442]


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PEACE CORPS

22 CFR Part 305

RIN 0420-AA26


Eligibility and Standards for Peace Corps Volunteer Service

AGENCY: Peace Corps.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The Peace Corps issues this final rule to restate and update 
the requirements for eligibility for Peace Corps Volunteer service, and 
the factors considered in the assessment and selection of eligible 
applicants for training and service. The requirements and factors for 
eligibility and selection were last published in 1984. A revision of 
the regulation is necessary to conform to changes in Federal laws and 
regulations, particularly with respect to those prohibiting 
discrimination on the basis of disability, and to reflect policy 
changes made by the Peace Corps.

DATES: The final rule is effective on January 5, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Anthony F. Marra, Associate General 
Counsel, Peace Corps, 1111 20th Street NW., Washington, DC 20526.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Background

    Under the Peace Corps Act (22 U.S.C. 2501 et seq.), the Peace Corps 
is authorized to enroll qualified U.S. citizens and nationals as 
Volunteers to serve abroad, under conditions of hardship if necessary, 
(i) to help the people of interested countries meet their need for 
trained manpower, particularly in meeting the basic needs of those 
living in the poorest areas of such countries, (ii) to help promote a 
better understanding of the American people on the part of the people 
served, and (iii) to help promote a better understanding of other 
peoples on the part of the American people. The Peace Corps is 
authorized to establish the terms and conditions of enrollment of 
Volunteers, as well as the terms and conditions of service. The Peace 
Corps published a proposed rule on July 31, 2015 (80 FR 45620) to 
revise and update the 30 year-old regulation concerning eligibility and 
selection standards for Peace Corps Volunteer service. The comment 
period for the proposed rule ended on August 31, 2015, and the Peace 
Corps received three comments.

II. Summary of Rulemaking

    The revised rule will make the following changes:
    (1) Introduction. The introductory section (22 CFR 305.1) provides 
new definitions for the three stages (Applicant, Trainee, and 
Volunteer) that an individual who is interested in service as a 
Volunteer passes through. It also provides a definition of the term 
``enrollment'', which is used in connection with an individual's 
service as a Volunteer. The section includes a general statement 
explaining the process the Peace Corps follows in the selection of 
Volunteers and provides notice to applicants regarding the importance 
of submitting complete and accurate information in the application 
process. The section eliminates the recitation of the various anti-
discrimination statutes that the Peace Corps is obligated to follow and 
replaces it with a clear statement that the Peace Corps does not 
discriminate on various grounds in the selection of Volunteers. Note 
that with regard to prohibiting discrimination on the basis of 
disability in the programs and activities of the Peace Corps, the 
agency is in the process of developing its section 504 implementing 
regulation and plans to coordinate the regulation's development with 
the Department of Justice pursuant to the requirements of Executive 
Order 12250. The section advises that applicants may be disqualified, 
and Volunteers and Trainees may be separated, if the Peace Corps 
determines they provided materially false, misleading, inaccurate, or 
incomplete information during the Peace Corps application process.
    (2) Eligibility. The eligibility section (22 CFR 305.2) is 
simplified to address only the existing citizenship and age criteria 
for Volunteer applicants. Other eligibility factors in the current 
Sec.  305.2 are moved to succeeding sections, where they are updated 
and expanded.
    (3) Selection Standards. A revised Sec.  305.3 incorporates the 
selection factors that previously appeared in Sec.  305.4. The revision 
restates the attributes that an applicant must meet for Volunteer 
service. It revises the description of the various personal attributes 
that are taken into account when evaluating applicants. The revised 
Sec.  305.3 explains that the Peace Corps assesses each applicant's 
personal, professional, educational, and legal qualifications in order 
to select those applicants most likely to be successful in a Peace 
Corps assignment, serving under conditions of hardship if necessary, to 
achieve the goals of the Peace Corps. Meeting the several 
qualifications does not in and of itself entitle any individual to 
serve in the Peace Corps, because the revision states that the Peace 
Corps endeavors to select the best qualified individuals from among all 
eligible applicants.
    (4) Medical Status. The revised part 305 creates a new Sec.  305.4 
that replaces the provision on the medical qualifications of applicants 
that previously appeared in Sec.  305.2. The revised section 
implements, in relation to applications for Volunteer service, Section 
504 of the Rehabilitation Act. It states that an applicant must have 
the physical and mental capacity required to meet the essential 
eligibility requirements for a Volunteer and sets out those essential 
eligibility requirements, which include the capability to:
    A revised Sec.  305.4(a)(1)(i)-(iii) addresses medical stat.
    It also requires that, in order for an applicant to be medically 
qualified for Volunteer service, the Peace Corps must have the 
capability to provide necessary or appropriate health care for the 
applicant. It includes a requirement that the Peace Corps consider 
reasonable accommodations in determining whether an applicant has the 
physical and mental capacity required to meet the essential eligibility 
requirements for a Volunteer and whether the Peace Corps has the 
capability to provide necessary or appropriate health care for the 
applicant.

[[Page 1186]]

    A new provision provides that an applicant must not pose a direct 
threat, which is defined as a significant risk to the health and safety 
of others that cannot be eliminated by reasonable accommodation, 
removal of architectural, communication, or transportation barriers, or 
the provision of auxiliary aids or services.
    The revisions include a requirement that an applicant's medical 
eligibility be based on an individualized assessment of the factors 
applicable to reasonable accommodations. An applicant determined not to 
be medically qualified for Volunteer service has a right to obtain a 
further review of the determination by a physician and, ultimately, by 
a review panel. In any case involving review of issues of mental 
health, at least one professional staff person from the Counseling and 
Outreach Unit also participates as a voting member of the review panel. 
The decision of the review panel, which is reviewed by the General 
Counsel for legal sufficiency, constitutes a final agency action and is 
not subject to further appeal.
    (5) Legal Status. A new Sec.  305.5 changes the eligibility 
qualifications for an applicant who is on parole or probation, 
previously covered in Sec.  305.2(d), and reframes the eligibility 
standard in terms of the existence of an arrest or conviction record. 
The revision provides the Peace Corps with greater flexibility to 
consider the nature of the offense, how long ago the offense occurred, 
whether the applicant was acquitted of the offense, the terms of any 
applicable parole or probation, and other relevant facts or indications 
of rehabilitation. Specific standards will be established for drug and 
alcohol related offenses. An applicant rejected because of an arrest or 
conviction will have a right to have a review of the rejection by a 
more senior Peace Corps official outside of the office that made the 
original eligibility determination. The new provision will also 
eliminate the requirement that an applicant not have any court 
established financial or other obligation that cannot be satisfied or 
postponed during a Peace Corps service period.
    (6) Intelligence Background. The Peace Corps has a longstanding 
policy to exclude from Volunteer service individuals who have engaged 
in intelligence activity or related work or who have been employed by 
or connected with an intelligence agency, either for a specific period 
of time or permanently (depending on the agency). This policy is 
founded on the premise that it is crucial to the Peace Corps in 
carrying out its mission that there be a complete and total separation 
of the Peace Corps from the intelligence activities of the United 
States Government or any foreign government, both in reality and 
appearance.
    The previous regulation contained a one-sentence statement in Sec.  
305.2(e) regarding the eligibility of applicants having a background 
with an intelligence agency or intelligence activities. It referred 
applicants to provisions of the Peace Corps Manual for more details. 
The new Sec.  305.6 provides greater transparency for applicants 
regarding this policy.
    The policy covers both employment (defined broadly) by an 
intelligence agency and engagement in intelligence activities. It 
applies to an employee of an intelligence agency even if the employee 
was not engaged in intelligence activities for the intelligence agency. 
An applicant who was employed by an intelligence agency (other than the 
CIA) or engaged in intelligence activities is barred from Peace Corps 
service for a minimum of 10 years. An applicant who was employed by the 
CIA is barred from Peace Corps service permanently.
    The policy also applies to an applicant whose background discloses 
a relationship to an intelligence agency or intelligence activity, but 
who was not employed by an intelligence agency or engaged in 
intelligence activities. Such a relationship might be one based on 
familial, personal or financial connections to an intelligence agency 
or intelligence activities. In these cases, the period of ineligibility 
will be determined by the General Counsel based on a number of stated 
factors.
    Serious doubts about an applicant's connection with intelligence 
agencies or activities are to be resolved in favor of exclusion. An 
applicant rejected based on an intelligence background criteria has a 
right to appeal the rejection to the Peace Corps Director.
    (7) Special Circumstances. A new Sec.  305.7 addresses special 
circumstances involving some applicants, which were previously covered 
in Sec.  305.2(f), (g) and (h).
    The former Sec.  305.2(f) placed restrictions on Peace Corps 
Volunteer service for applicants who are married and who wish to serve 
without their spouse. These restrictions have been removed as they are 
no longer relevant to eligibility for Volunteer service. In addition, a 
new Sec.  305.7(a) expressly provides that two applicants who are 
married or are in a same sex or opposite sex domestic partnership or 
committed relationship may apply to serve together. This codifies in 
regulation the Peace Corps policy on placement of couples, including 
its recent policy to accept same-sex and opposite-sex couple applicants 
on an equal basis whether married, or unmarried and in a committed 
relationship/domestic partnership.
    The former Sec.  305.2(g) places restrictions on the ability of an 
applicant who has dependent children under the age of 18 to serve as a 
Peace Corps Volunteer. These restrictions have been removed because 
they are not relevant to the ability of an individual to serve as a 
Volunteer. However, a new provision has been added that generally 
prohibits dependents and other family members from accompanying a 
Volunteer during service. This provision permits the Peace Corps to 
make exceptions from time to time either on a case-by-case basis or for 
particular categories of Volunteers to the extent permitted by Federal 
law.
    The previous policy on military service obligations of applicants 
that was contained in Sec.  305.2(h) is continued in Sec.  305.7(c), 
but the written statement from a commanding officer is no longer 
required.
    (8) Background Investigation. Section 22 of the Peace Corps Act 
requires that applicants be investigated to ensure that their 
assignment ``is consistent with the national interest.'' The Peace 
Corps previously satisfied this statutory requirement under Sec.  
305.3, which required a National Agency Check (NAC) and background 
investigation for all applicants. A NAC is a clearance conducted by the 
Federal Investigations Services of the U.S. Office of Personnel 
Management (OPM) and is the minimum clearance required for all civilian 
Federal employees. Peace Corps has required that Volunteer applicants 
be cleared through a NAC investigation for many years, in large part 
because it was initially the only feasible way to comply with Section 
22 of the Peace Corps Act. However, there are now other commercial, 
non-governmental investigative entities approved by the General 
Services Administration that can provide equivalent clearance services 
for Volunteer applicants.
    The revision of part 305 includes a new Sec.  305.8, replacing the 
former Sec.  305.3. It retains the requirement that all an appropriate 
background investigation be completed for all Applicants who are 
invited to serve in the Peace Corps. However, it does not specify that 
the background investigation be OPM's Federal Investigations Services 
background investigation for Federal employment positions. This change 
gives Peace Corps flexibility to use other contractors to conduct 
background investigations,

[[Page 1187]]

as well OPM's Federal Investigative Services.

III. Changes From Proposed to Final Rule

    The Peace Corps has made the following non-substantive changes to 
the final rule.
    (1) It has eliminated the provision for the enrollment of persons 
who are non-citizens but who have made satisfactory arrangements to be 
naturalized. This provision of the proposed rule aligns with the Peace 
Corps Act, which stipulates that enrollment as a Volunteer is limited 
to U.S. citizens and nationals. Furthermore, this provision has not in 
practice been necessary or appropriate, as all applicants are required 
to have U.S. passports prior to travel overseas for pre-service 
training.
    (2) It has amended the age requirement to make clear that 
Applicants must reach the age of 18 prior to becoming a Trainee (as 
opposed to at the time of enrollment). This correction is needed for 
the eligibility requirement so that only adults can become Trainees. 
The age of 18 is the standard for adulthood under the laws of most 
states.
    (3) The specific number of medical personnel required to staff the 
Pre-Service Review Board has been deleted as unnecessarily detailed and 
overly constraining on the Peace Corps' decisions on how to staff the 
Board.
    (4) The requirement for an affidavit in connection with applying 
for service as a member of an unmarried couple has been replaced with a 
requirement for a sworn statement, to allow for greater ease in 
electronic submission of this information.

IV. Responses to Comments

    The Peace Corps received three comments on the proposed rule.
    Comment 1: One commenter had a number of thoughtful suggestions 
about the order of the presentation of various topics in the Peace 
Corps application for Volunteer service, presumably on the assumption 
that the order of the topics in the proposed rule would be the same 
order in the application.
    Response: The application is a separate document and is 
periodically revised and does not necessarily follow the order of 
presentation of topics in the proposed rule. The commenter's 
suggestions will be useful for a future revision of the application.
    Comment 2: Another commenter objected to the provision in the 
proposed rule that would give the Peace Corps the flexibility to have 
the statutorily required background investigation performed by outside 
contractors, rather than the Federal Investigations Services of the 
U.S. Office of Personnel Management. The commenter cited concerns about 
the reliability of investigations performed by outside contractors.
    Response: The Peace Corps recognizes the commenter's concerns and 
will address them by limiting the use of outside contractors to those 
approved to conduct background investigations by the General Services 
Administration.
    Comment 3: A third commenter recommended that any Volunteer who 
ends service, before completion of the full 27 months of service, 
except for medical reasons, should have to pay back to the Peace Corps 
some proportionate amount related to the actual amount spent by the 
Peace Corps to train and transport the Volunteer to the country of 
service.
    Response: The Peace Corps appreciates the commenter's position, but 
does not view the proposal as workable. Peace Corps service is entirely 
voluntary and there are many valid reasons, in additional to medical, 
for a Volunteer to terminate his or her service before the normal 27 
month service period. Furthermore, the threat of the imposition of an 
exit fee would likely reduce interest in Peace Corps service.

Statement of Effects

Executive Order 12866

    The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has reviewed the proposed 
regulatory action under Executive Order 12866 and has determined that 
it is not a significant regulatory action within the meaning of the 
Executive Order. Consistent with the Executive Order, the Peace Corps 
is providing an explanation of the need for the regulatory action and 
an assessment of the potential costs and benefits of the regulatory 
action.
    (1) Need for Regulatory Action. Under Section 5(a) of the Peace 
Corps Act (22 U.S.C. 2504(a)), the Peace Corps is entitled to enroll 
qualified citizens and nationals into Peace Corps service and is 
delegated authority to establish the terms and conditions of 
enrollment. The Peace Corps last published its terms and conditions of 
enrollment in 1984 and those rules are outdated and need to reflect 
current laws and policies that have been implemented over the past 30 
years. In addition, the structure of the current regulation needs to be 
revised to simplify the description of the information required in 
order to apply to the Peace Corps, as well as the explanation of the 
Peace Corps selection process as described in the Supplementary 
Information section.
    (2) Potential Costs and Benefits. It is difficult to precisely 
quantify the costs and benefits of the new regulation that is designed 
to reflect current law and regulations and to make it easier for 
American citizens to apply for service as a Peace Corps Volunteer. 
However, the Peace Corps has concluded that the current regulatory 
structure, and the accompanying application form, is seen as a 
daunting, confusing and time-consuming process, which has discouraged 
many Americans who might otherwise be interested in and well-qualified 
for Volunteer service. The new regulation will improve the possibility 
of the most suitable candidates being selected as a Volunteer, decrease 
the barriers to service and broaden the rights of applicants. This will 
be a substantial benefit to all Americans who want to serve as 
Volunteers, as well as being a benefit to the Peace Corps which is 
interested in creating a large, diverse pool of qualified, suitable 
candidates to serve abroad as Volunteers. The Peace Corps estimates 
that agency staff will spend less time reviewing each individual 
application, because the application itself will be shorter. For 2016, 
the Peace Corps anticipates that use of the new application will result 
in a savings of $95.00 per application, compared to the former 
application. With 22,000 expected applications for the year, the new 
application is expected to provide a savings of $1,384,000 resulting 
from the reduction in staff time spent reviewing applications. However, 
the agency expects that the total number of completed applications will 
increase, and that the agency will not realize immediate cost savings 
from these changes.
    The former regulation listed nine factors as relevant to the 
determination of eligibility. These factors include citizenship, age, 
medical status, legal status, intelligence background, marital status, 
dependents, military service, and failure to disclose requested 
information. This listing combined factors that are basic, clear-cut 
requirements for Peace Corps service, such as the citizenship 
requirement (under the Peace Corps Act only citizens and nationals can 
be Volunteers), with factors that are more relevant to whether an 
applicant is suitable for Volunteer service, where an applicant could 
effectively serve, or whether the applicant has the requisite 
qualifications to serve as a Volunteer, which involve more judgmental 
and situational issues. As a result, the Peace Corps has found that 
many potential

[[Page 1188]]

applicants, after reviewing the nine requirements, make self-judgments 
that they are not eligible to apply for Volunteer service. In addition, 
the application form that had been in use until June 30, 2014 was over 
61 Web pages long and took approximately eight hours to complete. This 
was an added deterrence to many potential applicants. Approximately 75 
percent of the annual 40,000 individuals who started the application 
never finished it due to its length and density. The Peace Corps has 
recently introduced a new application, which is 9 Web pages rather than 
the former 61 pages. It is estimated that each applicant will save 
approximately 7 hours with the shorter application form. The shorter 
application will clearly benefit applicants, because it will result in 
a reduced paperwork burden on applicants. The Peace Corps estimates 
that the shorter application form will result in a savings to the 
public of approximately $5,840,000. This is based on (i) an assumed 
hourly wage equivalent of $37.94 derived from the median wage earnings, 
including overhead and benefits, for persons age 25 or over who have 
attained a bachelor's degree, (ii) the reduction of 7 hours spent on 
the application, and (iii) 22,000 applications in 2015.
    The shorter application should also increase the pool of 
individuals who complete an application from the current 10,000 per 
year to over 20,000 per year. Although the Peace Corps is able to 
simplify the application form without regard to a regulatory change, 
the new regulation is needed to accurately reflect the current laws and 
policies that relate to the Volunteer selection process.
    The new regulatory action addresses deficiencies in the current 
regulation that have deterred potential applicants and reduced the 
applicant pool. The new regulation specifies only two baseline 
eligibility requirements for applying to the Peace Corps. An applicant 
must be a citizen or national of the United States and at least 18 
years of age. The regulation clearly enumerates the suitability and 
qualification standards that are used by the Peace Corps in determining 
who should be invited to enroll as a Volunteer. It explains that an 
applicant must demonstrate suitability for Peace Corps service 
generally and for the particular assignment for which the applicant is 
being considered. It describes the medical qualifications that are 
applied, taking into account Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 
1973.
    The new regulation gives the Peace Corps greater flexibility in 
accepting applicants with arrest or conviction records. It provides a 
more complete description of how the Peace Corps considers applicants 
who have worked for intelligence agencies or engaged in intelligence 
activities. The former regulation merely stated that an applicant with 
an intelligence background may be disqualified, without an explanation 
of the criteria for disqualification in the regulation. As a result, 
applicants could have initiated and completed the lengthy application 
process only to be informed that they are not eligible for Volunteer 
service because of having worked for intelligence agencies or having 
engaged in intelligence activities. Other applicants may have been 
deterred from applying because they concluded that any connection to an 
intelligence background disqualifies an applicant. By explaining the 
intelligence background criteria front-end, applicants will be more 
informed about whether they meet Peace Corps selection standards and 
whether it is worth their time to initiate the application process.
    The new regulation also reflects the new policy of the Peace Corps 
to accept same sex and opposite sex couple applicants on an equal basis 
whether married or unmarried in a committed relationship. It removes 
some of the restrictions on applicants who have dependent children 
under the age of 18. Finally, the new regulation incorporates appeal 
rights when an applicant has been rejected on grounds relating to 
medical status, an arrest or conviction record, or for having a 
background in intelligence activities. Any applicant in an expanded 
list of protected categories who thinks that he or she had been 
discriminated against is given the option for review and consideration 
by the Office of Civil Rights and Diversity at the Peace Corps. These 
changes to the Volunteer application process will provide an easier, 
clearer, faster and more equitable and consistent process for potential 
applicants, and result in a greater number of well-qualified applicants 
available for Peace Corps Volunteer service.

Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (5 U.S.C. 605(b))

    The Director of the Peace Corps certifies that this regulatory 
action will not have a significant adverse impact on a substantial 
number of small entities. The regulation only applies to individuals 
who are interested in service as a Volunteer and has no application to 
small entities.

Unfunded Mandates Act of 1995 (Sec. 202, Pub. L. 104-4)

    This regulatory action does not contain a Federal mandate that will 
result in the expenditure by State, local, and tribal governments, in 
aggregate, or by the private sector of $100 or more in any one year.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C., Chapter 35)

    This regulatory action does not contain any paperwork or 
recordkeeping requirements and does not require clearance under the 
Paperwork Reduction Act. The Peace Corps Volunteer application form for 
Volunteer service referenced in the regulation has been approved by the 
Office of Management and Budget (Control Number 0420-0005).

Federalism (Executive Order 13132)

    This regulatory action does not have Federalism implications, as 
set forth in Executive Order 13132. It will not have substantial direct 
effects on the States, on the relationship between the national 
government and the States, or on the distribution of power and 
responsibilities among the various levels of government.

Executive Order 12291

    This document is not a major rule as described in Executive Order 
12291.

Lists of Subjects in 22 CFR Part 305

    Aged, Citizenship and naturalization, Civil rights, Discrimination, 
Equal employment opportunity, Foreign aid, Health, Individuals with 
disabilities, Intelligence, Nondiscrimination, Political affiliation, 
Volunteers.

0
For the reasons set out in the preamble, the Peace Corps revises 22 CFR 
Part 305 to read as follows:

PART 305--ELIGIBILITY AND STANDARDS FOR PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER 
SERVICE

Sec.
305.1 Purpose and general guidelines.
305.2 Eligibility.
305.3 Selection standards.
305.4 Medical status eligibility standards.
305.5 Legal status eligibility standards.
305.6 Applicants with an intelligence background.
305.7 Special circumstances.
305.8 Background investigation.

    Authority: 22 U.S.C. 2503, 2504 2521; 29 U.S.C. 794; E.O. 12137, 
44 FR 29023, 3 CFR, 1979 Comp., p. 389; E.O. 13160, 65 FR 39775, 3 
CFR, 2000 Comp., p. 1461.


Sec.  305.1  Purpose and general guidelines.

    This part states the requirements for eligibility for Peace Corps 
Volunteer

[[Page 1189]]

service and the factors considered in the assessment and selection of 
eligible applicants for Peace Corps Volunteer service.
    (a) Definitions. For purposes of this part:
    (1) Applicant means an individual for enrollment as a Volunteer, 
who has completed and submitted the Peace Corps Volunteer application 
form.
    (2) Trainee means an individual for enrollment as a Volunteer 
during any period of training occurring prior to such enrollment.
    (3) Volunteer means an individual who has taken the prescribed oath 
and enrolled for service in the Peace Corps.
    (4) Enrollment means the act by which an individual becomes a 
Volunteer upon successful completion of training and taking the 
prescribed oath of office pursuant to Section 5 of the Peace Corps Act, 
22 U.S.C. 2504.
    (5) Dependent means an individual for whom an applicant or 
Volunteer has a legal or familial obligation to provide financial 
support.
    (6) Family member means any individual related by blood or affinity 
whose close association with the applicant or Volunteer is the 
equivalent of a family relationship.
    (b) Selection. Invitations to serve in the Peace Corps are the 
result of a highly competitive application process. Many more 
individuals apply for Peace Corps Volunteer service than can be 
accepted. Because the Peace Corps cannot accept all eligible and 
qualified applicants who wish to serve, it evaluates applicants to 
select the best qualified among eligible applicants. The Peace Corps 
determines Applicants' eligibility, and assesses their relative skills, 
qualifications, and personal attributes, such as motivation, aptitude, 
fitness for service, emotional maturity, adaptability, productive 
competence, and ability to serve effectively as a Volunteer in a 
foreign country and culture.
    (c) Authority. Under section 5(a) of the Peace Corps Act, 22 U.S.C. 
2504(a), the President may enroll in the Peace Corps for service abroad 
qualified citizens and nationals of the United States. The terms and 
conditions of the enrollment of Volunteers are exclusively those set 
forth in the Peace Corps Act and those consistent therewith which the 
President may prescribe. The President has delegated his authority 
under section 5(a) of the Peace Corps Act to the Director of the Peace 
Corps pursuant to Executive Order 12137 (May 16, 1979), as amended.
    (d) Non-discrimination. The Peace Corps does not discriminate 
against any person on account of race, color, religion, sex (including 
but not limited to gender identity and gender expression), national 
origin, age (40 and over), disability, sexual orientation, gender 
identity, gender expression, pregnancy, marital status, parental 
status, political affiliation, union membership, genetic information, 
or history of participation in the EEO process, any grievance procedure 
or any authorized complaint procedure. Anyone who feels he or she has 
been discriminated against should contact the Office of Civil Rights 
and Diversity, 202.692.2139, ocrd@peacecorps.gov, Peace Corps, 1111 
20th Street NW., Washington, DC 20526.
    (e) Failure to disclose requested information. In order for the 
Peace Corps to be able to make appropriate selection and placement 
decisions, it is critical that Applicants provide complete and accurate 
information throughout the application process, including information 
provided for a mandatory background investigation. The Peace Corps may 
disqualify an Applicant or separate a Volunteer or Trainee from Peace 
Corps service at any time if the Peace Corps determines that the 
Applicant, Volunteer, or Trainee provided materially false, misleading, 
inaccurate or incomplete information during the Peace Corps application 
process.


Sec.  305.2   Eligibility.

    In order to be eligible for enrollment as a Volunteer, Applicants 
must meet mandatory citizenship and age requirements.
    (a) Citizenship. The Applicant must be a citizen or national of the 
United States prior to entering on duty as a Trainee.
    (b) Age. The Applicant must be at least 18 years old at the time of 
entry on duty as a Trainee.


Sec.  305.3  Selection standards.

    (a) General. To qualify for selection for overseas service as a 
Volunteer, an Applicant must demonstrate that he or she is suitable, 
possessing the requisite personal and professional attributes required 
for Peace Corps service generally, and for the particular Volunteer 
assignment for which he or she is considered. The Peace Corps assesses 
each Applicant's personal, professional, educational, and legal 
qualifications in order to select those Applicants most likely to be 
successful in a Peace Corps assignment, serving under conditions of 
hardship if necessary to achieve the goals of the Peace Corps. Meeting 
these qualifications does not in and of itself entitle any individual 
to serve in the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps endeavors to select the 
best qualified individuals from among all eligible Applicants.
    (b) Personal attributes. Applicants must adequately demonstrate the 
following personal attributes to Peace Corps:
    (1) Motivation. A sincere desire to carry out the goals of Peace 
Corps service, and a commitment to serve a full term as a Volunteer.
    (2) Productive competence. The intelligence and professional 
experience or educational background to meet the needs of the 
individual's assignment.
    (3) Emotional maturity and adaptability. The maturity, flexibility, 
cultural sensitivity, and self-sufficiency to adapt successfully to 
life in another culture, and to interact and communicate with other 
people regardless of cultural, social, and economic differences.
    (4) Skills. In addition to any educational, professional or other 
qualifications and prerequisites that an individual must possess in 
order to be selected for a given assignment, a Trainee must demonstrate 
competence in the following areas by the end of pre-service training:
    (i) Language. The ability to communicate effectively in the 
appropriate language or languages of the country of service with the 
fluency required to meet the needs of the overseas assignment.
    (ii) Technical competence. Proficiency in the technical skills 
needed to carry out the Trainee's assignment as a Volunteer.
    (iii) Knowledge. Adequate knowledge of the culture and history of 
the country of assignment to ensure a successful adjustment to, and 
acceptance by, the host country society, as well as an appropriate 
understanding of the history and government of the United States which 
qualifies the individual to represent the United States abroad.
    (c) Failure to meet standards. Failure to meet initial selection 
standards, failure to attain any of the selection standards by the 
completion of training, or failure to maintain these standards during 
service, may be grounds for de-selection and disqualification from 
Peace Corps service.


Sec.  305.4   Medical status eligibility standard.

    (a) Requirements. Under the Peace Corps Act (22 U.S.C. 2504(e)), 
the Peace Corps is responsible for ensuring that Peace Corps Volunteers 
receive all necessary or appropriate health care during their service. 
To ensure that the Peace Corps will be capable of doing so, Applicants 
must be medically qualified for Peace Corps Volunteer service. An

[[Page 1190]]

Applicant who is otherwise qualified must meet the following 
requirements:
    (1) The Applicant, with or without reasonable accommodation, 
removal of architectural, communication or transportation barriers, or 
the provision of auxiliary aids or services, must have the physical and 
mental capacity required to meet the essential eligibility requirements 
for a Volunteer. In this context, the essential eligibility 
requirements for a Volunteer include, without limitation, the 
capability to:
    (i) Live and work independently in an isolated location overseas at 
the same socio-economic level and in similar conditions as members of 
the community to which the Applicant is assigned;
    (ii) Perform the job to which the Applicant is assigned; and
    (iii) Complete a specified tour of service without undue 
disruption.
    (2) The Peace Corps must be capable of providing the Applicant with 
such health care as the Peace Corps deems to be necessary or 
appropriate.
    (3) The Applicant must not pose a direct threat (as defined in 
paragraph (c) of this section).
    (b) Individualized assessment. In determining whether an Applicant 
is medically qualified, an individualized assessment is required 
regarding each of the requirements set forth in paragraph (a) of this 
section.
    (c) Direct threat. (1) A ``direct threat'' is a significant risk to 
the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a 
reasonable accommodation to policies, practices or procedures, removal 
of architectural, communication or transportation barriers, or the 
provision of auxiliary aids or services.
    (2) In determining whether an applicant poses a direct threat, the 
Peace Corps will make an individualized assessment based on reasonable 
judgment that relies on current medical knowledge or on the best 
available objective evidence to ascertain:
    (i) The nature, duration and severity of the risk;
    (ii) The probability that the potential injury will actually occur; 
and
    (iii) Whether reasonable accommodations, removal of architectural, 
communication or transportation barriers, or the provision of auxiliary 
aids or services will mitigate the risk.
    (d) Reasonable accommodation. (1) The term ``accommodation'' means 
modifications to the Peace Corps' policies, practices or procedures.
    (2) An accommodation is not reasonable if:
    (i) It would modify the essential eligibility requirements for a 
Volunteer;
    (ii) It would modify, among other things, the Applicant's Volunteer 
assignment or the Peace Corps' medical program in a way that would 
result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of the service, 
program, or activity; or
    (iii) It would impose an undue financial and administrative burden 
on the operations of the Peace Corps, including its medical program.
    (3) In determining whether an accommodation would impose an undue 
financial and administrative burden on the operations of the Peace 
Corps, the Peace Corps may take into account, among other things:
    (i) The size and composition of the Peace Corps staff at the post 
of assignment;
    (ii) The adequacy of local medical facilities and the availability 
of other medical facilities;
    (iii) The nature and cost of the accommodation compared to the 
overall number of Volunteers and the overall size of the Peace Corps 
budget; and
    (iv) The capacities of the host country agency and of the host 
community to which the Applicant would be assigned.
    (e) Medical status eligibility review. (1) An Applicant who is 
determined by medical screening staff not to be medically qualified for 
Peace Corps Volunteer service may request review of that decision by 
submitting any relevant information to the Office of Medical Services 
(OMS). The information submitted by the Applicant will be reviewed by a 
physician, and, unless the physician determines that the Applicant is 
medically qualified, by a Pre-Service Review Board (PSRB) composed of 
medical personnel in OMS and advised by the General Counsel. Procedures 
for such review are subject to approval by the General Counsel.
    (2) The PSRB will include as voting members at least one physician 
as well as other medical professionals in OMS. In any case involving 
review of issues involving mental health, at least one mental health 
professional from the Counseling and Outreach Unit will also 
participate as a voting member.
    (3) The decision of the PSRB will be reviewed by the General 
Counsel for legal sufficiency. Subject to that review, it will 
constitute the final agency action.


Sec.  305.5  Legal status eligibility standard.

    (a) General requirements. The existence of an arrest or conviction 
record may, but will not automatically, exclude an Applicant from 
consideration for Peace Corps service. The Peace Corps will consider 
the nature of the offense, how long ago the offense occurred, whether 
the Applicant was acquitted of the offense, the terms of any applicable 
parole or probation, and other relevant facts or indications of 
rehabilitation.
    (b) Drug and alcohol related offenses. (1) An Applicant with any 
drug-related conviction, with a conviction for public intoxication, 
driving under the influence (DUI), or driving while intoxicated (DWI), 
with a conviction for reckless driving after having been initially 
charged with DUI or DWI, or with a similar alcohol-related conviction, 
is not eligible to have his or her application for Peace Corps service 
considered until 12 months has passed from the date of the incident.
    (2) An Applicant who, at any time on or prior to the day of 
departure for Peace Corps service, is arrested for any drug offense or 
for public intoxication, DUI, DWI or any similar alcohol-related 
offense will have any pending application or invitation for Peace Corps 
service withdrawn. If the charges are dismissed, an Applicant whose 
application or invitation for Peace Corps service was terminated may 
immediately reapply. If the applicant is convicted of the offense, he 
or she may reapply after 12 months from the date of the incident.
    (c) Review process. An Applicant who is rejected for a Volunteer 
position because of an arrest or conviction may request a review of 
that decision by submitting any relevant information to the Associate 
Director of the Office of Volunteer Recruitment and Selection (VRS). 
The Associate Director will review the information submitted and 
consult with the General Counsel. The decision of the Associate 
Director will be the final agency decision. The Associate Director may 
delegate authority to conduct such a review to another senior member of 
VRS, but not to the supervisor of the office making the original 
eligibility determination.
    (d) Subsequent application. An Applicant rejected for service due 
to failure to meet the legal status eligibility standard may reapply at 
a later date, but not sooner than 12 months after the final agency 
decision.


Sec.  305.6  Applicants with an intelligence background.

    (a) General. It has been the longstanding policy of the Peace Corps 
to exclude from Volunteer service any individuals who have engaged in 
intelligence activity or related work or who have been employed by or 
connected with an intelligence agency, either for a specific period of 
time or permanently (depending on the agency). This policy is founded 
on the premise

[[Page 1191]]

that it is crucial to the Peace Corps in carrying out its mission that 
there be a complete and total separation of Peace Corps from the 
intelligence activities of the United States Government or any foreign 
government, both in reality and appearance. Any semblance of a 
connection between the Peace Corps and the intelligence community would 
seriously compromise the ability of the Peace Corps to develop and 
maintain the trust and confidence of the people of the host countries. 
To ensure that there is not the slightest basis for the appearance of 
any connection between the Peace Corps and the intelligence community, 
this policy contains certain temporary and permanent bars to Peace 
Corps service. Serious doubts about an Applicant's connection with 
intelligence activities are to be resolved in favor of exclusion.
    (b) Definitions. For purposes of this section:
    (1) Intelligence activity includes any activities or specialized 
training involving or related to the clandestine collection of 
information, or the analysis or dissemination of such information, 
intended for use by the United States Government or any foreign 
government in formulating or implementing political or military policy 
in regard to other countries. The term ``intelligence activity'' 
includes any involvement in covert actions designed to influence events 
in foreign countries. The fact that the name of an employer or the 
description of a person's work uses or does not use the term 
``intelligence'' does not, in and of itself, mean that the person has 
or has not engaged in intelligence activity or related work.
    (2) Intelligence agency includes:
    (i) Any agency, division of an agency, or instrumentality of the 
United States Government that is a member of the United States 
Intelligence Community; and
    (ii) Any other agency, division of an agency, or instrumentality of 
the United States Government or any foreign government, a substantial 
part of whose mission has been determined by the General Counsel to 
include intelligence activities.
    (3) Employment, employee or employed refer to the existence of a 
relationship of employer and employee, whether full-time or part-time, 
permanent or temporary, whether or not the individual is engaged in 
intelligence activity for an employer, without regard to the length of 
time the relationship existed or is proposed to exist, and includes 
individuals performing duties as volunteers, fellows, interns, 
consultants, personal services contractors, contractors (non-personal 
services contractors), and employees of contractors who were assigned 
to work for an intelligence agency or to engage in intelligence 
activities. Employees of contractors who were or are not themselves 
assigned to work for an Intelligence Agency or to engage in 
intelligence activities are not considered to have been or to be 
employed by an intelligence agency.
    (c) Employment by an intelligence agency or engagement in 
intelligence activities. (1) An Applicant currently or formerly 
employed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is permanently 
ineligible for Peace Corps Volunteer service.
    (2) An Applicant who has been employed by an intelligence agency 
other than the CIA is ineligible for a minimum of 10 years from the 
last day of employment by such intelligence agency. This bar on an 
Applicant who is or was employed by an intelligence agency applies 
whether or not the Applicant was engaged in intelligence activity for 
the intelligence agency.
    (3) An Applicant who has been engaged in intelligence activities is 
ineligible for service as a Volunteer for a period of 10 years from the 
last date on which the Applicant engaged in intelligence activities.
    (4) An Applicant may be ineligible for service for a period in 
excess of 10 years if the General Counsel determines that the 
Applicant's background or work history with regard to intelligence 
activities warrants such action.
    (d) Relationship to intelligence agency or activity. (1) An 
Applicant whose background discloses a relationship to an intelligence 
agency or intelligence activity may be ineligible to serve as a Peace 
Corps Volunteer. The term ``relationship'' means any association with 
an intelligence agency or with an intelligence activity, if such 
association could be the basis for an inference or the appearance that 
an Applicant was engaged in an intelligence activity. The association 
could include, but not be limited to, one based upon a familial, 
personal or financial connection to an intelligence agency or with an 
intelligence activity.
    (2) Determinations of the eligibility or periods of ineligibility 
of such Applicants will be made by the General Counsel on a case by 
case basis using the criteria set forth below. Examples of the type of 
relationships among others that could lead to ineligibility are 
Applicants whose spouses, domestic partners, or parents are or were 
involved in actual intelligence activities, or members of the immediate 
family of prominent highly placed officials in an intelligence agency 
who might be the target of harassment or violence overseas as the 
result of family connections. Employment by an organization that has 
been funded by an intelligence agency may also lead to ineligibility.
    (3) In determining whether an Applicant's relationship to an 
intelligence agency or intelligence activity makes the Applicant 
ineligible for service, or in determining the duration of any 
ineligibility, the General Counsel will consider the following factors 
as appropriate:
    (i) Nature of the relationship.
    (ii) The intelligence agency with which the Applicant has the 
relationship.
    (iii) Duration of the relationship.
    (iv) Length of time that has elapsed since the last connection to 
the intelligence agency.
    (v) Where the intelligence activity or work was performed.
    (vi) Nature of the connection with intelligence activity or work.
    (vii) Whether or not the intelligence activity or work involved 
contact with foreign nationals.
    (viii) Whether the connection was known or unknown to the Applicant 
at the time it occurred.
    (ix) Training received, if any.
    (x) Regularity of the contact with foreign nationals, and nature of 
duties, if any.
    (xi) Public knowledge of the activity or connection.
    (xii) Any other information which bears on the relationship of the 
Applicant to an intelligence agency or intelligence activity.
    (e) Determination. VRS is responsible for the initial screening of 
Peace Corps Volunteer applications for compliance with the provisions 
of this policy. In cases where that office is unable to make a decision 
regarding the eligibility of an Applicant under this policy, the 
individual's application will be referred to the General Counsel, who 
will make the determination on eligibility.
    (f) Appeal. VRS will inform all Applicants promptly and in writing 
of any decision to disqualify them based on an intelligence background 
and the reasons for that decision. Applicants have 15 days from the 
date of receipt of the letter from VRS to appeal the decision to the 
Director of the Peace Corps. The decision of the Director of the Peace 
Corps will be the final agency decision.
    (g) Post Peace Corps employment by United States intelligence 
agencies. Pursuant to agreements between the Peace Corps and certain 
intelligence agencies, those intelligence agencies will not employ 
former Volunteers for a

[[Page 1192]]

specified period after the end of their Peace Corps service and will 
not use former Volunteers for certain purposes or in certain positions. 
Information regarding such agreements may be obtained from the Office 
of the General Counsel.


Sec.  305.7   Special circumstances.

    (a) Couples. Two Applicants who are married to one another or two 
unmarried Applicants who are in a same-sex or opposite-sex domestic 
partnership or other committed relationship are eligible to apply for 
service as a couple. In the case of an unmarried couple, each member of 
the couple must provide a sworn statement, in a form acceptable to the 
Peace Corps, attesting to their domestic partnership status or 
committed relationship (as the case may be) and their request to be 
considered for assignment as a couple. In all cases, both members of 
the couple must apply and qualify for assignment at the same location.
    (b) Serving with dependents and other family members. In general, 
dependents and other family members may not accompany a Volunteer 
during service. However, the Peace Corps may from time to time make 
exceptions either on a case-by-case basis or for particular categories 
of Volunteers to the extent permitted by Federal law.
    (c) Military service. The Peace Corps welcomes applications from 
veterans, reservists, and active duty military personnel who are 
interested in Peace Corps service after completion of their military 
service. After receiving an invitation for Peace Corps service, 
applicants with reserve obligations are reminded to comply with all 
requirements to notify their reserve component that they will be 
unavailable for drills and annual training because of their Peace Corps 
service. Such applicants are urged to obtain written confirmation from 
their reserve component that they have complied with these 
requirements.


Sec.  305.8  Background investigation.

    Section 22 of the Peace Corps Act requires that each Applicant be 
investigated to ensure that enrollment of the Applicant as a Volunteer 
is consistent with the national interest. The Peace Corps therefore 
obtains an appropriate background investigation for all Applicants who 
are invited to serve in the Peace Corps. Information revealed by the 
background investigation may be grounds for disqualification from Peace 
Corps service. Under the Peace Corps Act, if a background investigation 
regarding an Applicant develops any data reflecting that the Applicant 
is of questionable loyalty or is a questionable security risk, the 
Peace Corps must refer the matter to the Federal Bureau of 
Investigation for a full field investigation. The results of that full 
field investigation will be furnished to the Peace Corps for 
information and appropriate action.

    Dated: December 13, 2016.
William Stoppel,
Acting Associate Director, Management.
[FR Doc. 2016-30442 Filed 1-4-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 6051-01-P