In response to this year’s Ebola outbreak, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson has announced his decision to designate Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the next 18 months. This status prevents nationals of these countries currently residing in the U.S. from being removed during this period or from being detained by DHS on the basis of their immigration status in the U.S. Additionally, TPS designation authorizes these nationals to legally work in the U.S. by obtaining an employment authorization document.
Eligible individuals must apply for TPS within the 180-day period that commenced Nov. 21, 2014. Among the various eligibility criteria, applicants must meet a continuous physical presence and continuous residence requirement and must not have been convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the U.S.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officials estimate that 8,000 people will be eligible to apply. To prevent a mass migration from West Africa to the U.S., nationals from these countries who arrive after Nov. 21, 2014, will not be eligible for protected status. After 18 months, the Secretary of Homeland Security will assess whether the protection should be extended based on the level of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
It is important to note that protected status will not lead to a green card or any other immigration status in the U.S. On the other hand, TPS registration does not prevent you from applying for nonimmigrant status, filing for adjustment of status based on an immigrant petition, or applying for any other immigration benefit or protection for which you may be eligible.
Berardi Immigration Law encourages nationals from these countries to contact our office for assistance with obtaining an employment authorization document or pursuing other possible statuses. Call or email us today to speak with our attorneys.