Temporary Protected Status for Syrians
Frequently Asked Questions
On March 29, 2012, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that eligible Syrian nationals in the United States may apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which will provide immigration benefits to potentially thousands of Syrians living in the US.
- 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 Syria been designated for TPS?
- A: US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) stated that Syria has been designated for TPS status "[d]ue to the violent upheaval and deteriorating situation in Syria," referring to the yearlong, nationwide uprising against the Syrian regime and its crackdown on the opposition, which has claimed the lives of more than 25,000 Syrians, including women and children.
- Q: Who is eligible for TPS status?
- A: Generally, any Syrian national who came to the US on or before March 29, 2012 is eligible for TPS status. 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: What is the deadline for Syrians to file for TPS?
- A: The registration period for Syrians to apply for TPS is March 29, 2012 through September 25, 2012.
- Q: How long will TPS protection be available for Syrians?
- A: Currently, USCIS has designated Syria for TPS for an 18-month period (i.e., until September 30, 2013), with the possibility of renewal. However, all applications must be filed by September 25, 2012. The decision on whether to extend TPS beyond the designated period will be announced at least 60 days before the 18-month period ends (i.e., August 1, 2013).
- 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 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 will 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.
You may apply for work authorization through F-1 student status or through TPS. On April 3, 2012, the government announced special relief for certain F-1 Syrian students who have suffered severe economic hardship as a direct result of the civil unrest in Syria since March 2011. These new regulations suspend certain requirements for on-campus and off-campus employment. Specifically, F-1 students granted employment authorization may be permitted to reduce their normal course load and work beyond 20 hours per week. The government has issued extensive guidance on these regulations. For further information, click here.
In regard to employment authorization, an F-1 student who has not yet applied for TPS or for student relief under the new regulations has two options. The student may either apply for employment authorization separately through the new guidelines or along with the TPS application. If the student obtains employment authorization through TPS, he or she must contact his or her desiganted school official and request that the school make a special notation in the SEVIS record in order for the "economic hardship" regulations to apply.
- 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), you 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 March 29, 2012 (i.e., copy of passport and I-94 card).
• evidence that you have continuously resided in the US since March 29, 2012 (i.e., school or employment records, rent receipts, medical records, statements from others, etc.).
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 TPS 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 "Department of Homeland Security." If you cannot afford the costs associated with filing, you may be eligible for a fee waiver by USCIS.
- 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 will post further updates as soon as more information becomes available.
- Q: Do you need additional information? Contact us for a free 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) 519-1975 or by email for a free initial consultation. All inquiries are confidential. General information can also be found on the USCIS website.
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