“Relief for Syrians: TPS Available if in U.S. Since January 5, 2015”
02/07/15 By Peter F. Asaad
Earlier this week, the U.S. government extended and re-designated Syria for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which will provide immigration benefits to thousands of Syrians living in the U.S.
TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS FOR SYRIANS
More than 10,000 Syrians expected to benefit from new announcement
On January 5, 2015, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that Temporary Protected Status (TPS) will be available for:
- Syrians who already have TPS and wish to extend their status, AND
- Syrians who do not yet have TPS status who have been continuously residing in the United States since January 5, 2015.
TPS was originally permitted for Syrians that were residing in the U.S. since March 29, 2012 and then extended again in June 2013. Immigration Solutions Group, PLLC applauds this decision by the U.S. administration, which will provide immigration benefits to thousands of Syrians living in the US.
TPS is a temporary immigration status granted to foreign nationals of certain countries who are in the U.S. and who cannot safely return to their home countries due to ongoing armed conflict, natural disasters, or other emergency conditions. Historically, it is rare for the U.S. administration to change the originally designated TPS cutoff date for a country, however, they recognized that it was necessary “because the ongoing armed conflict and other extraordinary and temporary conditions that prompted the 2013 TPS redesignation have not only persisted, but have deteriorated, and because the ongoing armed conflict in Syria and other extraordinary and temporary conditions would pose a serious threat to the personal safety of Syrian nationals if they were required to return to their country.”
Syrian-American immigration attorney, Nadeen Aljijakli, of Immigration Solutions Group, PLLC, states: “For months, we have been responding daily to urgent inquiries from Syrians in the U.S. who have been desperate not to return to the devastating situation in Syria. Many of them arrived in the country after the TPS re-designation date in June 2013 and have no other immigration options. These individuals, who have been living in a state of fear and uncertainty for their lives, may now have a safe haven in the U.S.”
USCIS has designated Syria for TPS for an additional 18-month period (from April 1, 2015 until September 30, 2016), with the possibility of renewal. During this period, Syrians granted TPS status may not be deported from the U.S.; they can obtain work authorization; and they may be granted permission to travel. Applicants must show that they came to the U.S. on or before January 5, 2015 and have been continually residing in the country. They must also be physically present in the U.S. on April 1, 2015. For those who have already been granted TPS, applications for re-registration must be submitted by March 6, 2015. For those who are new applicants or whose original TPS applications are still pending, applications for registration must be submitted by July 6, 2015. Currently, TPS does not provide a clear path to permanent resident status (“green card”) or any other long term status; however, TPS holders may apply for any other status for which they are eligible and it is believed immigration rules may one day permit a path to permanent residence. When a TPS designation is terminated, TPS holders revert to the same immigration status they maintained before TPS, if that status remains valid, or to any other status they may have obtained while registered for TPS.
Based on the humanitarian purpose of TPS relief, and unlike many other areas of U.S. immigration law, Syrian nationals may be considered for TPS regardless of their immigration status or lack thereof. Mandatory bars, however, exist for individuals with certain criminal convictions and for other security-related matters. It is important for applicants to seek experienced legal counsel to determine if TPS is advantageous and whether any risks may apply.
USCIS has stated that there are approximately 5,000 current Syrian TPS beneficiaries who are expected to be eligible to re-register for TPS under the extension. USCIS further estimates that 5,000 additional individuals may be eligible for TPS under the redesignation of Syria. The TPS designation for Syria is certain to have a far-reaching impact on the Syrian population in the U.S.