The federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) possesses executive authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act to create special programs for immigrants coming from some countries or areas where unique circumstances have imposed difficult burdens on natives of those countries. Earlier this year the DHS had announced formation of a temporary program to reunite Haitian immigrants with their family members in the United States. Now, in the wake of the spread of the Ebola virus in certain West African countries, the Secretary of Homeland Security 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 purpose of this initiative is to allow people from those countries to qualify for a reprieve from having to return to their home country during the next year and a half. Just as temporary protected status periodically gives those residing in the United States whose home countries are consumed with violence or a civil war to stay in this country until hostilities abate; this designation by the Director seeks to allow citizens from those three countries to avoid having to return until after the epidemic subsides.
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 Shulman Law Group endeavors to ensure its clients be kept abreast of all significant developments relating to the process of naturalization to the United States particularly where special programs are created for immigrants from particular countries. Edward Shulman, Esq, founder of The Shulman Law Group, LLC is a national speaker for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). AILA is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, and to advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice. In the course of Mr. Shulman's involvement with AILA, he has been dedicated to educating other immigration attorneys about the import of helping intending immigrants to navigate a new cultural system. He meticulously follows all of the developments occurring in the battle over immigration reform so that he will be prepared to effectively assist his clients obtain either citizenship or residency if a new system is enacted.