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In Case You Missed It! --- Temporary Protected Status Announced for Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone

In the excitement of President Obama’s announcement on Executive Action back in November and the new DAPA Program, many missed the part where the Department of Homeland Security also designated Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone for Temporary Protected Status (TPS).  As many of us know, TPS is already designated for numerous other countries, but these three are now added to the list as a result of the Ebola outbreak.
In order to qualify for TPS, one must be a native and citizen of one the named countries, must have been present in the United States on or before November 20, 2014, and must not have more than two misdemeanor convictions.  The applicant also cannot have an aggravated felony, but may still be eligible even with an order of removal.  It is important to note the date by which the individual must have been in the U.S., so that some do not try to enter the U.S. after November 20, 2014 thinking that they can apply for TPS.
TPS is a designation reserved for those countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security determines is in great need, whether it be as a result of civil war, natural disaster, or in this case, an epidemic.  To clarify for those who have never been eligible to apply for TPS before, it is not the same as lawful permanent residence.  It is only a temporary status valid for 18 months in this case, but it can be renewed indefinitely as long as the Department of Homeland Security extends TPS for the designated countries.  Further, any convictions that occur after TPS is granted can either terminate a person’s status, or at least make them ineligible when trying to renew their status.  
Another important point about TPS is that although it does not lead to a green card, one can possibly file to adjust their status even if they entered the United States without inspection.  Specifically, often times individuals are not eligible to adjust their status in the United States if they entered without inspection (unless they are otherwise grandfathered under 245i), but recent case law has changed this for those applicants.  Therefore, one with TPS status can now apply for a travel document, leave the United States and return after being properly inspected by an immigration officer.  First, the departure itself would not be considered a departure in light of recent case law such that they individual would not incur a ten year bar.  Second, the subsequent valid reentry would then allow the individual to file for a green card in the U.S. if otherwise eligible.
Finally, TPS for the three countries has an initial registration period of November 20, 2014 through May 20, 2015, and the designation of TPS is for 18 months.  It remains to be seen whether TPS for these countries will be extended beyond the initial period.
If you have any questions regarding this new TPS designation, please contact Danielle M. Claffey at 404.949.8151 or by email at dclaffey@immigration.net.

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