Temporary Protected Status for Syrians
Frequently Asked Questions
On January 31, 2018, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that Temporary Protected Status (TPS) will be extended for Syrians who already have this status, but not for Syrians who have entered the United States after 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 on June 17, 2013, and then again on January 5, 2015 and August 1, 2016. Now, eligible Syrians that have been residing in the U.S. since August 1, 2016 will qualify for TPS renewal. The U.S. administration recognized that extension was necessary "because the ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions that prompted Syria's 2016 redesignation for TPS persist."
- Q: Who is eligible for TPS status?
- A: Generally, re-registration is for Syrians who have previously registered for TPS and whose applications have been granted. Certain individuals who did not apply previously may still be eligible for TPS if they meet certain conditions described in the Code of Federal Regulations (8 CFR 244.2(f)(2)), such as having been in status when TPS previously designated. 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 May 4, 2018. 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. In addition, please note that USCIS no longer requires Form I-765 for TPS UNLESS the applicant is also requesting work authorization.
- Q: What is the deadline for Syrians to file for TPS?
- A: Applications for re-registration must be submitted by May 4, 2018.
- Q: What if my old application for TPS is still pending?
- A: USCIS has advised that a pending application filed prior to March 5, 2018 will be treated as an initial application under this 2018 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 April 1, 2018 through September 30, 2019). 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.
- 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 is the government filing fee for TPS?
- A: The government filing fee for those who are re-registering is $85 (for biometrics). There is no re-registration fee for individuals younger than 14. An additional $410 fee applies for those who 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 for Syria TPS. You must mail your application to the mailing address indicated in the USCIS instructions.
- 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 vary and will depend on the current USCIS backlog. We have seen Syria TPS re-registrations decided from anywhere between 1 month 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 March 31, 2018. Accordingly, USCIS has automatically extended the validity of EADs issued under the TPS designation of Syria for 6 months, through September 27, 2018.
- 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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