As you may have seen and heard on the news, this past April, Nepal was hit with a magnitude 7.8 earthquake and subsequent aftershocks that killed over 8,600 people and injured more than double that amount. Nepal and its people suffered devastating damage and is still in the process of trying to rebuild their country. In an effort to assist the people affected by the earthquake and keep them safe, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) announced on June 24, 2015 that eligible nationals of Nepal residing in the United States may apply for Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) with USCIS.
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. In light of the recent natural disaster, DHS has designated Nepal to be a TPS country.
The TPS will be effective from June 24, 2015 through December 24, 2016. This means that during this designated period, eligible nationals of Nepal (and people without nationality who last habitually resided in Nepal) will not be removed from the United States and may receive a work permit (employment authorization document (EAD)) for 18 months. The 180-day TPS registration period begins June 24, 2015 and runs through December 21, 2015.
To be eligible for TPS, applicants must also have been “continuously residing” in the United States “continuously physically present” since June 24, 2015. Applicants must be able to pass a background check. Those with a criminal history or who pose a threat to national security 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 the Immigration and Nationality Act Section 212(a), including non-waivable criminal and security-related grounds, or if you fail to meet initial or late initial TPS registration requirements.
Lastly, once granted TPS, an individual cannot be detained by DHS on the basis of his or her immigration status in the United States. However, 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.
For more information about details and procedures for TPS, please visit the USCIS website at: www.uscis.gov/tps.