Department of Homeland Security announces Temporary Protected Status: Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone

TPS

The following is an announcement by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, announcing Temporary Protected Status for Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.

For more general information, please read our article explaining Temporary Protected Status.

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Due to the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in West Africa, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson has announced his decision to designate Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months.  As a result, eligible nationals of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone who are currently residing in the United States may apply for TPS with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The Federal Register notices provide details and procedures for applying for TPS and are available at www.uscis.gov/tps.

The TPS designations for the three countries are effective Nov. 21, 2014 and will be in effect for 18 months. The designations mean that eligible nationals of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone (and people without nationality who last habitually resided in one of those three countries) will not be removed from the United States and are authorized to work and obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The 180-day TPS registration period begins Nov. 21, 2014 and runs through May 20, 2015.

To be eligible for TPS, applicants must demonstrate that they satisfy all eligibility criteria, including that they have been “continuously residing” in the United States since Nov. 20, 2014 and “continuously physically present in” the United States since Nov. 21, 2014.  Applicants also undergo thorough security checks.  Individuals with certain criminal records or who pose a threat to national security are not eligible for TPS. The eligibility requirements are fully described in the Federal Register notices and on the TPS Web page at www.uscis.gov/tps

Liberians currently covered under the two-year extension of Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) based on President Obama’s Sept. 26, 2014 memorandum may apply for TPS. If they do not apply for TPS within the initial 180-day registration period, they risk being ineligible for TPS because they will have missed the initial registration period. Liberians covered by DED who already possess or have applied for an EAD do not need to also apply for one related to this TPS designation. However, such individuals who are granted TPS may request a TPS-related EAD at a later date as long as the TPS designation for Liberia remains in effect.

Applicants may request that USCIS waive any or all fees based on demonstrated inability to pay by filing Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, or by submitting a written request. Fee-waiver requests must be accompanied by supporting documentation. USCIS will reject any TPS application that does not include the required filing fee or a properly documented fee-waiver request.

All USCIS forms are free. Applicants can download these forms from the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov/forms or request them by calling USCIS toll-free at 1-800-870-3676.

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Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is licensed to practice law by the State of Illinois and Louisiana. She is skilled and experienced in complex immigration law issues. For more information about the law firm, please visit www.KiKisLaw.com, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter. You can also review Attorney Mosley’s endorsements on her Avvo profile.

USCIS extends Temporary Protected Status designation for Haiti for 18 months

Temporary Protected Status gives temporary respite from deportation to those who temporarily cannot safely return to their home country.

Temporary Protected Status gives temporary respite from deportation to those who temporarily cannot safely return to their home country.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) extended the designation of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) for 18 months from July 23, 2014 through January 22, 2016.[i] Eligible Haitian nationals must re-register to extend their status during within a 60-day window. Applications were accepted as of March 3, 2014 and must be received no later than May 2, 2014 to take advantage of the extended TPS period. Haitian TPS beneficiaries working in the U.S. may also apply for a new Employment Authorization Document (“EAD”) to receive an EAD card valid through January 22, 2016.[ii] TPS does not grant permanent resident status (a green card) but it does offer temporary shelter I the United States without fear of deportation to the victims of disaster in their countries of origin.

Temporary Protected Status gives temporary respite from deportation to those who temporarily cannot safely return to their home country.

Haiti was designated a TPS country in 2010 when they suffered the severe earthquake. Other TPS countries include: El Salvador; Honduras; Nicaragua; Somalia; South Sudan; Sudan; and Syria.[iii] Countries receive TPS designations when their nationals face ongoing-armed conflicts, environmental disasters and other extraordinary conditions making for unsuitable living. The 2010 Haiti earthquake was catastrophic. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates 316,000 people died in the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti.[iv] Another several hundred thousand residences and buildings were destroyed leaving many homeless and without an able government to stabilize the area. Marking the four year anniversary of the earthquake, NPR published an article, “Four Years After Earthquake, Many in Haiti Remain Displaced.[v]” The article states that many have been able to rebuild, “But for nearly 150,000 people, life hasn’t moved on. They still live in the temporary plastic and plywood structures erected after the disaster.”

Haitian nationals who are beneficiaries of TPS must meet eligibility requirements to stay in the U.S.

The eligibility requirements for TPS and blocks to gaining TPS are listed on the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) website and are listed below. “To be eligible for TPS, an applicant must:

  1. Be a national of a country designated for TPS, or a person without nationality who last habitually resided in the designated country;
  2. File during the open initial registration or re-registration period, or meet the requirements for late initial filing during any extension of your country’s TPS designation;
  3. Have been continuously physically present (“CPP”) in the United States since the effective date of the most recent designation date of your country; and
  4. Have been continuously residing (“CR”) in the United States since the date specified for your country. The law allows an exception to the continuous physical presence and continuous residence requirements for brief, casual and innocent departures from the United States. When you apply or re-register for TPS, you must inform USCIS of all absences from the United States since the CPP and CR dates. USCIS will determine whether the exception applies in your case.[vi]

Haitian TPS beneficiaries should be aware of blocks to eligibility requirements for extensions.

Some individuals may not be eligible for TPS or to maintain their status in the event they are convicted of a felony or multiple misdemeanor crimes while in the U.S. Additionally, criminal and security related grounds otherwise barring immigration and asylum eligibility will prevent TPS. Also, failure to maintain the CPP and CR requirements can be a block to TBS. Finally, failures to timely re-register for TPS as required could preclude eligibility.

Living and working in the U.S. requires compliance with immigration laws. TPS beneficiaries who work in the U.S. with a valid EAD card who apply for extended TPS must also obtain a new EAD with an extended expiration date. An immigration attorney can not only help TPS beneficiaries with the EAD process, they also work with individuals with issues related to TPS denials and withdrawals. When denied TPS, immigration attorneys can file appeals and motions when appropriate.

Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is licensed to practice law by the State of Illinois and Louisiana. She is skilled and experienced in complex immigration law issues including TPS and EAD matters. For more information about the law firm, please tap/click here to visit the rest of the website, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter or Google Plus.


[i] U.S. Customs and Immigration Services: Temporary Protected Status Extended for Haitians. Media release date March 3, 2014.

[ii] U.S. Customs and Immigration Services: Employment Authorization Document.

[iii] U.S. Customs and Immigration Services: Temporary Protected Status.

[iv] U.S. Geological Survey: Deaths from Earthquakes in 2010.

[vi] U.S. Customs and Immigration Services: Temporary Protected Status.

USCIS and U.S. Senators respond with measures pushing for relief for victims of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda

The massive devastation and lack of resources to clean up and start recovery makes the Philippines seem like a lost cause. Filipinos who might otherwise consider visiting their friends and family in the U.S. may today be considering moving in with them, at least on a temporary basis, until they can get back on their feet.

Filipinos may find relief in applying for temporary protected status (“TPS”).

Philippine nationals in the U.S. are also concerned about being deported to a country no longer able to receive them. In response, the “American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA”) and a growing list of lawmakers have been petitioning the federal government to grant TPS to Philippine nationals who are here on temporary visas or without legal status.[i]” The Department of Homeland Security designates TPS eligibility for countries when conditions prevent the safe return of their nationals. Conditions of this sort are ongoing wars, extraordinary conditions and natural disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan. The USCIS website[ii] contains a list of countries currently designated for TPS including: El Salvador; Haiti; Honduras; Nicaragua; Somalia; Sudan; South Sudan; and Syria.

Click/Tap (or copy and paste into your browser) the link to the petition page: Grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Filipinos in the US to Sustain the Flow of Yolanda/Haiyan Relief Support.

Twenty senators sent the Obama administration a letter urging the grant of TPS to Filipino nationals. The senators stated that the conditions make the victims of Typhoon Haiyan eligible for the TPS designation and they urge prompt action. The letter requests an automatic extension of visas in categories where feasible and the temporary suspension of deportations to the Philippines and the use of alternatives to detention[iii].

USCIS responds with offers of relief for eligible Filipinos.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) acted, within a week of the typhoon hitting the Philippines on the 7th of November. On the 15th of November, USCIS released its statement offering immigration relief for eligible and affected Filipino nationals. Below is the bullet point list of relief measures listed on the USCIS website[iv]:

  • Change or extension of nonimmigrant status for an individual currently in the United States, even when the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired;
  • Extension of certain grants of parole made by USCIS;
  • Extension of certain grants of advance parole, and expedited processing of advance parole requests;
  • Expedited adjudication and approval, where possible, of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship;
  • Expedited processing of immigrant petitions for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs);
  • Expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications, where appropriate; and
  • Assistance to LPRs stranded overseas without immigration or travel documents, such as Permanent Resident Cards (Green Cards). USCIS and the Department of State will coordinate on these matters when the LPR is stranded in a place that has no local USCIS office.

If you are a Filipino in the U.S. and/or are seeking TPS for yourself or a friend or family member you may contact the Law Offices of KiKi M. Mosley for assistance in reviewing your current status and to apply for whatever relief for which you may be eligible.

Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is licensed to practice law by the States of Illinois and Louisiana. She is skilled and experienced in complex immigration law issues. For more information about the law firm, please tap/click here to visit the rest of the website, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter or Google Plus.