USCIS Designates Syria for Temporary Protected Status

Due to the violent upheaval and deteriorating situation in the Syrian Arab Republic (Syria), United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on March 29, 2012, that eligible Syrian nationals, as well as persons without nationality who last habitually resided in Syria, in the United States may apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

This announcement comes after Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano indicated on March 23 her intent to designate Syria for TPS for 18 months. The TPS designation for Syria is effective as of March 29 and will remain in effect through September 30, 2013. The designation means that eligible Syrian nationals will not be removed from the United States and may request employment authorization. The 180-day TPS registration period begins on March 29 and ends on September 25, 2012. Although the previous Federal Register notice erroneously stated that TPS applications can be filed through September 30, 2013, USCIS will only accept applications filed through September 25, 2012.

To be eligible for TPS, Syrians must meet all individual requirements for TPS, including demonstrating that they have continually resided and been continually physically present in the United States since March 29, 2012. All individuals who apply for TPS will undergo a thorough security check. Individuals with criminal records or who pose a threat to national security are not eligible for TPS and their applications will be denied.

In order register for TPS status, you must file your TPS package during the 180-day registration period that runs from March 29, 2012 through September 25, 2012. Your TPS package must include:

  • Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status;
  • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (you have to file this form even if you do not need a work permit);
  • If you are aware when you apply that a relevant ground of inadmissibility applies to you and you need a waiver to obtain TPS, you need to include Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility, and fee or fee waiver request, with your TPS application package. (However, you do not need to file a new Form I-601 for an incident that USCIS has already waived with a prior TPS application. USCIS may grant a waiver of certain inadmissibility grounds for humanitarian purposes, to assure family unity, or when it is in the public interest.);
  • Evidence of Identity and Nationality, to demonstrate your identity and that you are a national of a country designated for TPS (or that you have no nationality and you last habitually resided in a country designated for TPS);
  • Evidence of Date of Entry, to demonstrate when you entered the United States;
  • Evidence of Continuously Residing, to demonstrate that you have been in the United States since the date specified for your country (March 29, 2012 for Syria).

The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a foreign country for TPS due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately. USCIS may grant TPS to eligible nationals of certain countries (or parts of countries), who are already in the United States. Eligible individuals without nationality who last resided in the designated country may also be granted TPS.

The Secretary may designate a country for TPS due to the following temporary conditions in the country:

  • Ongoing armed conflict (such as civil war);
  • An environmental disaster (such as earthquake or hurricane), or an epidemic;
  • Other extraordinary and temporary conditions.

During a designated period, individuals who are TPS beneficiaries or who are found preliminarily eligible for TPS upon initial review of their cases (prima facie eligible):

  • Are not removable from the United States;
  • Can obtain an employment authorization document (EAD);
  • May be granted for travel authorization.

Once granted TPS, an individual also cannot be detained by DHS on the basis of his or her immigration status in the United States.

TPS is a temporary benefit that does not lead to lawful permanent resident status or give any other immigration status. However, registration for TPS does not prevent you from:

  • Applying for nonimmigrant status;
  • Filing for adjustment of status based on an immigrant petition;
  • Applying for any other immigration benefit or protection for which you may be eligible.

To be granted any other immigration benefit you must still meet all the eligibility requirements for that particular benefit. An application for TPS does not affect an application for asylum or any other immigration benefit and vice versa. Denial of an application for asylum or any other immigration benefit does not affect your ability to register for TPS, although the grounds of denial of that application may also lead to denial of TPS.

Besides Syria, the countries currently designated for TPS are El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan.

Attorneys at I.S. Law Firm have helped many immigrants to avoid deportation and legalize their status in the United States. To explore your immigration options, please contact us at +1-703-527-1779 or by e-mail: [email protected].