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Syria “Redesignated” for TPS: New Applicants May Apply

October 9, 2013
Harter Secrest & Emery LLP

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has extended the existing designation of Syria for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, from October 1, 2013 through March 31, 2015. In addition, Syria has been “redesignated” for TPS, which allows new TPS applications from Syrians who meet the eligibility criteria.

TPS gives individuals permission to stay in the United States when they are temporarily unable to safely return to their home country due to extraordinary and temporary conditions, such as armed conflict or natural disaster. An individual who is granted TPS may obtain employment and travel authorization, is not removable from the United States, and cannot be detained by DHS on the basis of his or her immigration status. TPS is a temporary benefit and does not lead to lawful permanent resident status or confer any other immigration status. TPS beneficiaries may still apply for nonimmigrant status, adjustment of status based on an immigrant petition, or for other immigration benefits or protection for which they may be eligible.

DHS has determined that extension and redesignation of TPS for Syria are warranted because the extraordinary and temporary conditions in Syria that prompted the 2012 TPS designation have not only persisted, but have deteriorated, and because there is now an ongoing armed conflict in Syria that would pose a serious threat to the personal safety of Syrian nationals if they were required to return to their country.

The extension of Syria’s 2012 TPS designation allows currently eligible TPS beneficiaries to retain TPS through March 31, 2015 so long as they otherwise continue to meet the terms and conditions of TPS status. “Redesignation” allows new applications for TPS from Syrians who meet the eligibility criteria. Under the redesignation, individuals who currently do not have TPS (or who do not have an initial TPS application pending) may submit an initial application during the initial registration period that runs through December 16, 2013. First time TPS applicants must file an Application for Temporary Protected Status (Form I-821), and will be required to demonstrate continuous residence in the United States since June 17, 2013 and continuous physical presence in the United States from October 1, 2013, and other eligibility criteria. TPS applications that were filed during the original Syria designation that opened on March 29, 2012, and remain pending on June 17, 2013 will be treated as initial applications under the redesignation. Individuals who have a pending TPS application do not need to file a new Application for Temporary Protected Status (Form I-821).

All applicants will be required to demonstrate that they have been continuously physically present in the United States since October 1, 2013, the effective date of Syria’s redesignation, before USCIS will issue the TPS approval. Therefore, applicants who applied before October 1, 2013 may be required to provide evidence of continuous physical presence in the United States before the TPS application is approved.

If you have any questions regarding this LEGALcurrents®, please do not hesitate to contact any member of our firm’s Immigration Practice Area at (585) 232-6500.

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