Temporary Protected Status for Syrians
Frequently Asked Questions
On August 1, 2016, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that Temporary Protected Status (TPS) will not only be extended for Syrians who already have this status, but will also be permitted for all other eligible Syrians who have been continuously residing in the United States since August 1, 2016.
- Q: What is Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?
- A: TPS is a temporary immigration status granted to foreign nationals of certain countries who are in the U.S. and who cannot safely return to their home countries due to ongoing armed conflict, natural disasters, or other emergency conditions. Syrians granted TPS status may not be deported from the US; they can obtain work authorization; and they may be granted permission to travel.
- Q: Why has TPS been extended and re-designated for Syria?
- A: TPS was originally permitted for Syrians that were residing in the U.S. since March 29, 2012 and then the date was extended to Syrians that came before June 17, 2013 and then again on January 5, 2015. Now, eligible Syrians that have been residing in the U.S. since August 1, 2016 will also qualify for TPS. Historically, it is rare for the U.S. administration to change the originally designated TPS cutoff date for a country, however, they recognized that extension and re-designation was necessary "because the ongoing armed conflict and other extraordinary and temporary conditions that prompted the 2015 TPS redesignation have not only persisted, but have deteriorated, and because the ongoing armed conflict in Syria and other extraordinary and temporary conditions would pose a serious threat to the personal safety of Syrian nationals if they were required to return to their country."
- Q: Who is eligible for TPS status?
- A: Generally, any Syrian national who came to the US on or before August 1, 2016 is eligible for TPS status. They must also be physically present in the U.S. on October 1, 2016. Based on the humanitarian purpose of TPS relief, and unlike many other areas of US immigration law, Syrian nationals may be considered for TPS whether or not they have maintained valid immigration status. Mandatory bars, however, exist for individuals with certain criminal convictions (a felony or two or more misdemeanors) and for other security-related matters. Certain other grounds of inadmissibility may be waivable. It is important for applicants to seek qualified legal counsel to determine if TPS is advantageous and whether any risks may apply.
- Q: Can the spouse and child of an individual eligible for TPS also apply as dependents?
- A: Unlike certain other immigration benefits, there is no “derivative” TPS status obtained as a result of being the spouse or child of someone else who is eligible for TPS. Each individual must make a separate application and meet all the TPS eligibility requirements on his or her own merits.
- Q: If I already have TPS, is my status automatically extended?
- A: No. You must submit a new application for TPS by September 30, 2016. However, you do not have to submit again copies of documentation to establish your nationality, your date of entry into the US, and your US residence. USCIS may ask you for additional information and/or documentation in certain circumstances.
- Q: What is the deadline for Syrians to file for TPS?
- A: For those who have already been granted TPS, applications for re-registration must be submitted by September 30, 2016. For those who are new applicants, applications for registration must be submitted by January 30, 2017.
- Q: What if my old application for TPS is still pending?
- A: USCIS has advised that a pending application filed prior to August 1, 2016 will be treated as an initial application under this 2016 redesignation. Individuals who have a pending initial Syria TPS application will not need to file a new TPS application.
- Q: How long will TPS protection be available for Syrians?
- A: Currently, USCIS has designated Syria for TPS for an additional 18-month period (from October 1, 2016 until March 31, 2018), with the possibility of renewal. The decision on whether to extend TPS beyond the designated period will be announced at least 60 days before the 18-month period ends.
- Q: Can TPS status lead to any permanent immigration status?
- A: No. TPS does not provide a path to permanent resident status ("green card") or any other long term status. For information on other potential options, please visit our U.S. Immigration Options for Syrians page.
- Q: What will happen to my current immigration status if I obtain TPS? Can I apply for any other immigration status if I receive TPS?
- A: TPS is considered a nonimmigrant status and will not affect your current valid immigration status. Your status will remain valid as long as it is does not expire and you continue to follow the conditions of that status. Even as a TPS holder, you may apply for any other immigration status for which you are eligible. An application for TPS should have no affect on your application for any other immigration benefit.
- Q: If I obtain TPS, what will happen to my immigration status once the 18-month TPS period ends?
- A: When the TPS designation for Syria is terminated, TPS holders will revert to the same immigration status they maintained before TPS, if that status remains valid, or to any other status they may have obtained while registered for TPS. However, if you entered the US as a visitor (or other temporary non-immigrant status such as student) and did not maintain that status or obtain a new status, you will be in unlawful immigration status once TPS ends. This means that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may issue a notice to appear in immigration court, beginning the legal proceedings to deport the person from the US. For this reason, it is important for individuals to discuss potential risks with a qualified attorney before applying for TPS status.
- Q: I have F-1 student visa status. Can I benefit from TPS?
- A: Possibly. TPS is a valuable alternative option if any issues arise with your F-1 student visa or if there are changes in your academic plans. However, if you continue to maintain F-1 student visa status, you may not necessarily make use of the TPS benefits. Stay tuned, as USCIS will likely publish regulations soon for continued special relief for certain F-1 Syrian students.
- Q: What supporting documents do I need to apply for TPS?
- A: In addition to the necessary immigration forms (Form I-821 and I-765), initial applicants must provide the following:
• evidence of your identity and Syrian nationality (or that you have no nationality and you last habitually resided in Syria) (i.e., passport, birth certificate, or "hawiyeh" national identification card).
• evidence of your date of entry to demonstrate that you entered the US on or before August 1, 2016 (i.e., copy of passport and I-94 card).
• evidence that you have continuously resided in the US since August 1, 2016 (i.e., school or employment records, rent receipts, medical records, statements from others, etc.).
• evidence that you are physically present in the US on October 1, 2016. (USCIS will assume you are present unless they discover evidence that confirms otherwise).
Any document in Arabic must be accompanied by a certified English translation.
- Q: What is the government filing fee for TPS?
- A: The government filing fee for those who have TPS and are re-registering is $85 (for biometrics), and an additional $380 for those who wish to receive work authorization. The government filing fee for first-time TPS applicants is $515 for individuals ages 14-65 who wish to receive work authorization. The fee is $50 for children (ages 0 - 13); $135 for adults over 65; and $135 for applicants who do not wish to receive work authorization. Payments must be made by check or money order payable to the "U.S. Department of Homeland Security." If you cannot afford the costs associated with filing, you may be eligible for a fee waiver by USCIS.
- Q: Is it possible to file electronically?
- A: No, you cannot electronically file your application when re-registering or applying for initial registration for Syria TPS. You must mail your application to the mailing address indicated in the USCIS instructions. USCIS has indicated that they are working on transitioning to an electronic process in 2017.
- Q: How long will it take for my TPS application to be decided?
- A: Your application for work authorization should be decided within 90 days of filing. However, the processing times for the TPS applications are yet to be seen and will depend on the current USCIS backlog. We have seen Syria TPS applications decided from anywhere between 3 months to one year.
Furthermore, USCIS has advised that given the timeframes involved with processing TPS re-registration applications, USCIS recognizes that not all re-registrants will receive new EADs before their current EADs expire on September 30, 2016. Accordingly, USCIS has automatically extended the validity of EADs issued under the TPS designation of Syria for 6 months, through March 30, 2017.
- Q: Do you need additional information? Contact us for a consultation.
- A: It is important for applicants to seek experienced legal counsel to determine if TPS is advantageous and whether any risks may apply. If you would like to discuss the possibility of applying for TPS, please contact us at (440) 519-1979 or by email for a consultation. All inquiries are confidential. General information can also be found on the USCIS website as well as a previously released USCIS FAQ.
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