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What to do when you can’t go home: Temporary Protected Status — TPS announcements for Nepal, Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Syria, and Somalia

Sometimes it is just not possible to return to your home country. In these cases, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has the authority to provide Temporary Protective Status (TPS) to individuals who can’t return home because of conflict or disasters. TPS allows those individuals to stay lawfully in the U.S. for a designated period of time. 

What is Temporary Protected Status? 

TPS is a type of temporary protection given to individuals who are already present in the U.S. and who are from countries experiencing issues that make it unsafe for them to return.  TPS permits individuals to remain in the U.S. temporarily, work in the U.S., and to travel abroad during their TPS status. Individuals without nationality who last habitually resided in the designated country may also apply.  Issues that may cause DHS to designate a country as TPS eligible include:

  • Ongoing armed conflict (e.g. civil war);
  • An environmental disaster (e.g. earthquake, flood, or hurricane) or epidemic (e.g. Ebola); or
  • Other extraordinary and temporary conditions.

If DHS finds that one of these conditions applies, it may designate the country for TPS, so that its nationals within the U.S. can apply for it. If approved, those individuals will not be deported and can apply for work authorization and permission to travel abroad for the duration of their TPS approval.  See our blog for more basic information on TPS.

Currently, there are 12 countries whose citizens may be eligible for TPS: El Salvador, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Liberia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Syria.

TPS announced for Nepal:

On April 25, 2015, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake devastated Nepal, killing over 8,000 and injuring many thousands more. On June 24, 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a notice designating Nepal for TPS for a period of 18 months, effective June 24, 2015 through December 24, 2016, based on the devastating country conditions resulting from this massive earthquake and its aftershocks. The designation allows eligible Nepalese nationals (and immigrants having no nationality who last habitually resided in Nepal) who have continuously resided and have been continuously physically present in the United States since June 24, 2015, to be granted TPS. The 180-day registration period ends on December 21, 2015.

Extended initial registration for TPS for Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone:

On November 21, 2014, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced it would extend TPS benefits to qualified individuals in the U.S. from Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone based on the Ebola outbreak.  The deadline to submit TPS applications for citizens of these countries was May 20, 2015.  However, the government has now extended the application deadline to August 18, 2015, which will give individuals more time to prepare and submit their applications.

Please note that if you had already filed your application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after May 20, 2015 and it was returned to you, the extended deadline of August 18, 2015 is your second chance, you may now resubmit your complete application by Aug. 18, 2015.

Initial TPS registration deadline for Syria approaching on 7/6/2015:

On March 29, 2012, Syria was designated as TPS-eligible.  Since that time, those who had already received TPS status had to re-register their status from January 5, 2015 through March 6, 2015. The designation of Syria for TPS runs from 1/5/15 through 9/30/16.  However, individuals who currently do not have TPS from Syria may be eligible to file a first time, or initial, application. First time applicants must submit their TPS applications to USCIS by July 6, 2015.  

Countries currently in re-registration period:

Somalia’s re-registration for TPS runs from June 1, 2015 to July 31, 2015.  If approved, the renewed status (and accompanying work authorization) will be extended to March 17, 2017.  Please note that while employment authorization is usually extended during the application periods, in this case, employment authorization has not been automatically extended.  USCIS notes on its website that this is because they expect to have sufficient time to review and decide all the applications in a timely manner.

If you believe you would benefit from TPS, would like to renew your TPS, or have questions about applying for a green card based on your TPS, please contact our office to schedule a consultation.

 

Alix Strunk

Alix Strunk is an Associate Attorney in the law firm of Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan, P.C. and has been named a Rising Star in Immigration by Super Lawyers Magazine in 2014 and 2015, as well as for 2016. Her practice focuses on removal defense before Chicago Immigration Court and appeals to the Board of Immigration Appeals as well as family-based immigration. Her family-based immigration practice includes applications for permanent residency through adjustment of status and consular processing abroad, hardship waivers, U visas for crime victims and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) petitions, applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and citizenship and naturalization issues. Her practice also includes I-9 compliance and employer sanctions actions. Alix has worked pro bono with the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (CVLS) and with the New Americans Initiative. She is fluent in Spanish.

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