The latest Ebola outbreak is the worst in history, with more than 15,000 cases and over 5,400 deaths reported globally. In an effort to protect those who are already in the United States from deportation, on November 20, 2014, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a measure called the Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The TPS will be granted to those people currently living in the United States who are from Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone- the three West African countries most affected by Ebola.
The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a country for TPS if the conditions in that country temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately. USCIS may grant TPS to eligible nationals of certain countries (or parts of countries), who are already here in the United States.
People who are eligible may apply to the USCIS for protection from deportation, as well as for work permits (employment authorization document (EAD)) for 18 months. The 180-day TPS registration period begins November 21, 2014 and runs through May 20, 2015. After 18 months, the U.S. will determine whether protection should be extended, based on the level of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. However, applicants must be able to pass a background check. Those with a criminal history will not be approved. Also, you may not be eligible for TPS or to maintain existing TPS if you are found inadmissible as an immigrant under applicable grounds in INA Section 212(a), including non-waivable criminal and security-related grounds, or if you fail to meet initial or late initial TPS registration requirements.
To be eligible for TPS, applicants must also have been “continuously residing” in the United States since November 20, 2014 and “continually physically present in” the United States since November 21, 2014. Additionally, in order to prevent the disease from spreading, the 8,000 people estimated to be eligible will not be allowed to travel home once granted TPS.
Once granted TPS, an individual also cannot be detained by DHS on the basis of his or her immigration status in the United States. TPS is a temporary benefit that does not lead to lawful permanent resident status or confer any other immigration status. However, registration for TPS does not prevent you from: applying for nonimmigrant status, filing for adjustment based on an immigrant petition, or applying for any other immigration benefit or protection for which you may be eligible.