I’m from Syria. Due to the ongoing conflict in my country, I do not feel I will be safe if I return. Can I stay in the U.S. and get TPS?
Syria was originally designated for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) on March 29, 2012, in response to the civil conflict occurring in that country. The resulting conditions in Syria, including food insecurity and difficulty accessing critical medical services, have prevented many Syrians from safely living in or returning to their home.
As a result, the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security decided to allow Syrian nationals to stay in the U.S., temporarily, for their protection.
A TPS designation of a country does not extend indefinitely, nor does it allow permanent status to people in the U.S. who apply for it. So the first thing to find out is whether, as you are reading this, the TPS program is indeed still in effect for Syria; and if so, whether you qualify for it.
It sounds as though you did not apply for TPS during the initial registration period. But, just in case, this article will also discuss what to do if you have already applied for and received TPS in the past.
Registration Deadlines for Syrians Seeking TPS
TPS for citizens of Syria was, at the time this article was written, in effect until March 31, 2015. (See Nolo's update, “Syrian Nationals Qualify for Temporary Protected Status Until 2015.”)
However, in order to qualify for this TPS protection, you would need to have registered or re-registered by the applicable registration deadlines, which were December 16, 2013 (for first-time TPS applicants who hadn’t registered when the designation was first announced in 2012), or August 16, 2013 (for TPS renewals).
If USCIS approved your application, you gained the right to stay in the U.S. legally until your TPS expires.
Check the “Temporary Protected Status” page of the USCIS website for any updated deadlines and dates of possible re-extension.
If TPS Is Still Available to Citizens of Syria, Do You Qualify for It?
You are expected to have applied for TPS during either the initial or the re-registration period. At the time this article was written, all of the deadlines for Syrian TPS application and extension had passed.
However, since USCIS saw fit to redesignate Syria for TPS once, it may do so again. This will depend on the degree to which conditions in Syria have improved by the time the TPS designation runs out.
If you missed the deadlines above, but think you are otherwise eligible for TPS, please check the news and consult with an immigration attorney to determine whether Syria has been redesignated for TPS and, if so, to discuss the possibility of filing. If Syria is in a re-registration period at the time you are reading this article, you may still be able to file, as long as you:
- can prove that you meet all of the basic TPS eligibility requirements, including that you have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 17, 2013 and that you have been physically present in the U.S. since October 1, 2013.
- meet the criteria described in "Temporary Protected Status: Who Is Eligible" and further described in “FAQs About TPS.”
For further information about the application process for TPS, please see Nolo's article on “TPS: How to Apply.”
How Long TPS Work Authorization for Syrians Will Last
Someone applying for TPS for the first time must include an application for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) along with the TPS application. This will authorize the person to accept employment while in the United States.
(See “Filling Out Form I-765” for the application procedure; the appropriate entries for Questions 15 and 16 are "TPS" and "(a)(12)," respectively.)
If you are able to apply for TPS and it is granted, you will receive work authorization for as long as your TPS lasts.
If you already have TPS and are working under an EAD, your work authorization was automatically extended from its original expiration date of September 30, 2013 (presuming you applied for an extension within the appropriate deadlines). As of the date of writing this article, a current EAD for a Syrian with TPS will not expire until March 31, 2015. In order to keep working, you’d simply need to show your current EAD and a copy of the relevant Federal Register notice (for this time period, 78 FR 36223, dated June 17, 2013), to your employer.
Whether you are applying for TPS for the first or a subsequent time, be sure to keep copies of each of the forms and documents you submit, just in case USCIS asks you for them again.