USCIS Will Terminate TPS Status for Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone

April 25th, 2017

On April 19, 2017, USCIS announced that it will not renew Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for beneficiaries from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and that the designations will be terminated on May 21, 2017. The Department of Homeland Security has also recommended terminating TPS status for Haiti.

USCIS may designate a foreign country for TPS if conditions in the country are unsafe for its nationals to returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country cannot adequately manage the return of its nationals. A national of a TPS country, or someone who last resided there, may apply for TPS status while in the US.

USCIS may designate a country for TPS based on one of the following temporary conditions:

• Ongoing armed conflict (such as civil war):
• An environmental disaster (such as an earthquake), or an epidemic; or
• Any other extraordinary and temporary situation.

TPS beneficiaries who are found primarily eligible based on an initial review of their cases are granted the following:

• Protection from being removed from the US:
• Ability to obtain employment authorization; and
• Ability to obtain permission to travel abroad.

Also, if TPS is granted, then the beneficiary cannot be detained by DHS on the basis of his or her immigration status in the United States.

While TPS is only a temporary benefit, as opposed to legal permanent residency, and does not lead to any other immigration status, it does not bar someone from seeking to change immigration status. A TPS beneficiary may apply for another type of nonimmigrant visa, such as an H-1B specialty worker or F-1 foreign student, file to adjust status based on an immigrant visa petition (based on family qualifications, marriage or employment) or apply for any other immigration benefit (e.g. asylum).

Current countries designated for TPS are the following:

• El Salvador;
• Guinea;
• Haiti;
• Haiti;
• Honduras;
• Liberia;
• Nepal;
• Nicagarua;
• Sierra Leone;
• Somalia;
• Sudan;
• South Sudan;
• Syria; and
• Yemen.

To be eligible for TPS the applicant must be a national of the designated TPS country or a person who last habitually resided in that country. The applicant must also meet certain physical presence and residence requirements in the US, which are detailed in the TPS chart at https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/temporary-protected-status#What%20is%20TPS?.

Certain crimes and activities render a person ineligible for TPS. These include convictions of any felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the US; other crimes making a person inadmissible to the US; security-related activities making a person inadmissible to the US; and engagement in terrorism or persecution of others.