DHS Designates Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone for Temporary Protected Status

By Attorney Rachel K. Dan-Harry

As many of us know, the ebola virus has killed more than six thousand and sickened more than sixteen thousand people in the West African nations of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. Despite this huge number of casualties and interventions by humanitarian workers and governments from around the world, the deadly virus continues to spread unabated. The situation, no doubt, is a huge source of concern for individuals from those countries who are currently in the United States temporarily. They have to make tough choices as to whether they should remain in the U.S. and by so doing overstay their visas or return to their countries at the risk of getting infected with ebola. To help those who would prefer to remain in the U.S. until ebola is contained, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on November 20, 2014 announced that the agency would be granting individuals from these three West African countries Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

DHS grants TPS to persons in the United States who are nationals of countries where there is ongoing-armed conflict, environmental disasters or epidemic, or other extraordinary temporary conditions. In the past, DHS has granted TPS to nationals of Nicaragua, Haiti, Honduras, and several other countries. TPS is usually granted for a designated period and during that period eligible individuals are protected from detention or deportation from the U.S. In addition, they can be granted authorization to work in the U.S. during the designated period.

It must be noted that TPS is a temporary measure and does not lead to the grant of permanent residency or any other immigration benefit. However, TPS holders can adjust their status to other nonimmigrant or immigrant status if they chose. Also DHS can extend the designated period if the situation in the country continues or worsens.

Individuals from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone who are interested in the TPS are required to apply between Nov 21, 2014 and May 2015. To be eligible an applicant must have resided continuously in the U.S. since Nov. 20, 2014, and must have had “continuous physical presence” in the U.S. since Nov 21, 2014.

Thankfully, individuals from these countries do not have to live in the shadows for fear of deportation. They can stay in the U.S. for the designated period and earn a living as they hope for the best for their countries.

For more information visit: www.uscis.gov or for further information regarding immigration issues, contact Attorney Rachel K. Dan-Harry at Levine-Piro Law, 978-637-2048.   Levine-Piro Law offers free 30 minute consultations either on the phone or in person.