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In this article we will answer regarding the updates to immigration law in 2021 such as, What is Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?, Why was Syria granted TPS?, What are the Benefits of applying for and receiving TPS?, How do I apply for TPS?, When should you apply?, and I already have a Syrian based TPS, do I need to reapply?

On March 19, 2021, the Biden administration announced that they will reopen accepting Temporary Protected Status (TPS) applications for Syrians currently in the country. This reapplication window will capture new applicants and people who have already been granted TPS. It is important to reapply for TPS under the respective 60 day or 180 day filing windows. For more information, please be sure to read below.

What is Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?

As a reminder for those new applicants: TPS is a sort of humanitarian based immigration benefit given to individuals residing inside the USA who cannot return to their country of origins because of serious humanitarian concerns ongoing in that country. These could be because of armed conflict, environmental disasters, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.  

Why was Syria granted TPS?

Syria was granted this designation is due to extraordinary and temporary conditions in Syria that have stemmed out of the Syrian civil war that prevent nationals or residents from returning safely. The Syrian government keeps targeting civilians for the use of chemical weapons, forced conscriptions and the use of child soldiers, among other humanitarian crises. Syrians who have resided continuously in the United States as of March 19, 2021 are eligible for TPS under Syria’s designation. This grant of TPS will last for another year and a half, and it is set to expire on September 30, 2022.

What are the Benefits of applying for and receiving TPS?

A person who applies for and receives TPS is not deportable or removable from the USA, they can obtain an employment authorization pursuant to their TPS status, and, in some instances, they may be granted travel authorization for outside the country. However, it is important to note that TPS generally does not lead for an applicant to reside permanently inside the Country. There may be other ways to qualify for an adjustment of status for TPS recipients, but TPS by itself does not give their recipients access to green cards or other more permanent status inside the Country.

When should you apply?

The most important information to know is that Syrians seeking to receive TPS need to apply for it as soon as possible. The application window for TPS extension begins March 19, 2021 and it will close 60 days later (on May 18, 2021) for people who have already received TPS and who need to reapply. For new Syrian TPS applicants, there is a 180 day window that runs through March 19, 2021 and closes on September 15, 2021. Anyone applying for TPS outside of their respective window is likely to get rejected.  

How do I apply for TPS?

To apply for TPS, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recommends showing the following information:

  • Be a national of a country designated for TPS, or a person without nationality who last habitually resided in the designated country;
  • File during the open initial registration or re-registration period, or you meet the requirements for late initial filing during any extension of your country’s TPS designation;
  • Have been continuously physically present (CPP) in the United States since the effective date of the most recent designation date of your country; and
  • Have been continuously residing (CR) in the United States since the date specified for your country. (See your country’s TPS web page to the left). The law allows an exception to the continuous physical presence and continuous residence requirements for brief, casual and innocent departures from the United States. When you apply or re-register for TPS, you must inform USCIS of all absences from the United States since the CPP and CR dates. USCIS will determine whether the exception applies in your case.

However, not all Syrians will qualify for TPS. If you are Syrian, but you fit within the following characteristics, you should not apply for TPS to avoid any issues in your immigration journey:

  • Have been convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States;
  • Are found inadmissible as an immigrant under applicable grounds in INA section 212(a), including non-waivable criminal and security-related grounds;
  • Are subject to any of the mandatory bars to asylum. These include, but are not limited to, participating in the persecution of another individual or engaging in or inciting terrorist activity;
  • Fail to meet the continuous physical presence and continuous residence in the United States requirements;
  • Fail to meet initial or late initial TPS registration requirements; or
  • If granted TPS, you fail to re-register for TPS, as required, without good cause.

This benefit can be obtained even if there was no lawful admission into the USA (I.e. the applicant and their family entered into the USA through a place that is not a port-of-entry). It can also be obtained by people who entered the country with a visa or through a port-of-entry. Syrians in deportation proceedings should also apply for TPS if they qualify and are not otherwise disqualified from this benefit. Lastly, applicants seeking asylum who are Syrians or who last lived in Syria if they are stateless should also apply for TPS to ensure that they can remain in the Country while awaiting the results of their asylum application.

I already have a Syrian based TPS, do I need to reapply?

Yes! Syria has been previously granted TPS since its initial designation in 2012. If you do not reapply for TPS, you could be missing out on TPS protections. Additionally, your Employment Authorization Card (EAD) will be expiring soon. Your EAD has been automatically extended for 180 days until September 27, 2021 to make sure that Syrians who have received TPS are able to resubmit their application while the application window is open. If your case gets reaccepted, your status will be extended until the end of the current Syrian designation period of September 30, 2022.

If you believe you qualify for TPS, or if you have questions about the process, please do not hesitate to reach call O’Flaherty Law at 630-324-6666 to speak with one of our experienced immigration attorneys!

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