On April 25, 2015, a devastating earthquake hit the country of Nepal, killing 9,000 people and injuring an estimated 23,000 more. Hundreds of thousands of Nepalis have been rendered homeless and jobless as the country seeks to rebuild itself in the aftermath of this tragedy.
The United States has offered temporary immigration aid to Nepalis who are currently in the U.S. but cannot return to Nepal because their homes are destroyed. This relief is called Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and it will allow qualifying Nepalese nationals to remain in the U.S. and obtain work authorization. By designating Nepal for TPS relief, the U.S. has made a critical move in helping those who have lost homes, property, and jobs.
What is TPS
In general, TPS is a temporary benefit that provides designated nationals with short-term legal authorization to live and work in the United States. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) estimates that there are approximately 25,000 Nepalis currently living in the U.S. who are eligible for TPS. USCIS recently began accepting applications for TPS and work authorization, and the agency is wholly committed to quickly and efficiently reviewing these applications. In order to qualify for TPS, the applicant must be able to show that he or she is a Nepalese national, has been continuously physically present in the U.S. since the date that Nepal was designated for TPS, and has been continuously residing in the U.S. since the date of TPS designation. Additionally, USCIS must receive the applicant’s TPS petition before December 21, 2015, which is the day the registration period closes.
The Benefits of TPS
The two main benefits of TPS are that the status allows a person to remain in the U.S. even if, before the TPS designation, the person was living in the U.S. without immigration authorization, and the work authorization. Therefore, if a Nepali’s period of authorized stay has already expired, he or she may remain in the U.S. once USCIS approves the TPS application.
The Possible Disadvantages of TPS
Temporary Protected Status is just that – temporary. When a country is designated for TPS, the designation period is not indefinite and is usually granted for a year and a half. Nepal’s designation is valid through December 2016. Closer to that period, if the conditions in the country have not improved, the U.S. can choose to extend Nepal’s TPS designation, but the U.S. can also choose to let the designation expire.
The other potential drawback to TPS is that this type of status provides no route to becoming a U.S. lawful permanent resident (green card holder). If a TPS holder wishes to become an LPR, he or she must follow the same channels that any other foreign national must follow, such as finding a U.S. employer to sponsor him or her.
ImmigRantings applauds the U.S. for approving Nepal for TPS designation. This move was eagerly anticipated by the thousands of Nepalis who are currently in the U.S. and who cannot safely return home at this time due to the tragic conditions in their country. Continue to check back with our blog for the most up to date news on the execution action and all other immigration-related issues.
Additional Blog Posts
The Government’s War on H-1Bs, ImmigRantings, October 11, 2012
Obama Signs Immigration Executive Order, ImmigRantings, June 15, 2012
Problems with the H-1B visa: From Work Horse to Show Pony, ImmigRantings, February 13, 2012