On January 26, 2024, the Biden administration announced it is extending and redesignating Syria for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) due to ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions. This extension allows Syrian nationals with already approved TPS to extend it further until September 30, 2025. The redesignation further allows Syrian nationals (or individuals having no nationality who last habitually resided in Syria) which have been in the U.S. since January 25, 2024 to now seek TPS for the first time, including those with no status. USCIS estimates that as a result of this redesignation, approximately 2,000 new individuals will become eligible for TPS.
What is Temporary Protected Status?
TPS is a designation that countries can receive if the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) believes that conditions in that country make it too dangerous to return there. Some common reasons for countries to receive TPS are natural disasters, war, or other widespread conflict. In this case, DHS Secretary Mayorkas extended TPS for Syria on account of “ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions in Syria that prevent individuals from safely returning.”
As the name suggests, TPS is temporary. It is generally granted for periods of 12 to 18 months, at which point DHS decides whether or not to renew TPS for that country. Because TPS is based on conditions in the home country, if DHS believes that conditions have improved, it can choose not renew TPS for that country. In this case, DHS has indicated that it will further extend TPS for Syrian nationals until September 30, 2025.
What are the basic requirements to obtain Temporary Protected Status?
In order to obtain TPS, you must meet the following basic conditions:
Most notably, TPS is available to individuals who are in the U.S. both without any lawful status and also those who are maintaining temporary lawful status (e.g. B-2, F-1, J-1, H-1, L-1, etc.). It further extends to individuals who are in removal proceedings or even those with outstanding orders of remove (i.e. deportation).
What are the benefits of Temporary Protected Status?
TPS holders receive the following benefits for the duration of their approved TPS:
TPS does not on its own create a path towards a green card or citizenship, but can make the road to getting a green card easier on account of TPS being considered a nonimmigrant status pursuant to INA 244(f)(4), which in certain situations permits changing status or adjusting status in the U.S., even on the basis of an employer sponsor.
Extension for Syrian nationals with approved Temporary Protected Status
Syrian nationals with approved TPS must file to extend their TPS during the designated 60-day period between January 29, 2024, through March 29, 2024. Failure to file during this window may result in foregoing eligibility for the program, barring exceptional circumstances.
If approved, the TPS extension will be valid until September 30, 2025. Recognizing that not all re-registrants may receive a new Employment Authorization Document (EAD) work permit before their current EAD expires, USCIS is automatically extending the work authorization previously issued through March 31, 2025. Individuals may present a copy of this Federal Register notice to any employer as evidence of their continued work authorization in that case.
Redesignation for first time applicants
Syrian nationals that have not previously obtained TPS may seek initial TPS designation if they meet the eligibility criteria above, have continuous residence in the U.S. since January 25, 2024 and have been physically present in the U.S. since April 1, 2024. USCIS distinguishes the two presence requirements as follows:
Should you apply for Temporary Protected Status if you are already in the U.S. in another temporary nonimmigrant status?
Individuals in the U.S. who are maintaining a temporary nonimmigrant status are eligible to apply for and receive TPS, but using the EAD work permit that comes with TPS may have serious consequences for those whose nonimmigrant status prohibits employment (e.g., B-2 visitors, certain F-1 students, certain H-4 spouses, etc.) Pursuant to a 2015 FAQ, DHS stated:
Any individual who applies for and is granted TPS must continue to comply with the separate eligibility requirements of all other statuses (e.g., F-1, H-1B) that he or she seeks to maintain. It is up to the individual to know and understand the requirements of all statuses he/she holds or is seeking to obtain and/or maintain. Receiving TPS or a TPS-related EAD does not alter any rules limiting employment for certain nonimmigrants, such as F-1 students or B-2 visitors. Before someone holding both nonimmigrant status and TPS chooses to work using a TPS-related EAD, he or she should carefully consider whether that employment could violate the terms of the nonimmigrant status, potentially resulting in violation of the nonimmigrant status.
Therefore, individuals in the U.S. in a nonimmigrant status that prohibits working should carefully consider whether the benefits of using the TPS EAD work permit outweigh the costs of violating their underlying nonimmigrant status. Some possible consequences of violating their nonimmigrant status include:
Note that this precaution does not apply to those F-1 students which are authorized to work in the U.S. on-campus, or those working off-campus pursuant to Optional Practical Training (OPT), Curricular Practical Training (CPT), Special Student Relief (which was also extended until September 30, 2025), or other authorized employment.
If you wish to learn more about your eligibility for TPS or the consequences of applying for TPS, please do not hesitate to contact our office at (312) 427-6163 or schedule a consultation online.
The material contained in this alert does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only. An attorney-client relationship is not presumed or intended by receipt or review of this presentation. The information provided should never replace informed counsel when specific immigration-related guidance is needed.
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