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The DHS Extends TPS for Syria

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Having recently moved to end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in countries such as El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Sudan, Haiti, and Nepal, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) announcement to extend TPS for 18 months is welcome news to the roughly 7,000 Syrian refugees living in the United States dependent on the status. Protections for Syria were officially set to expire on September 30, 2019, but will now allow currently eligible TPS beneficiaries to retain their status—meaning they’re able to legally reside and work in the U.S.—from October 1, 2019, to March 31, 2021. 
What is Temporary Protected Status?
TPS offers immigrants from countries devastated by temporary emergencies—such as war and natural disasters—the ability to legally live and work in the U.S. However, TPS does not provide a pathway to permanent residency. This leaves beneficiaries in limbo, as they’re able to live, work, and build lives in the U.S., but also with uncertain futures as their protected status is, as the name implies, only temporary.
Who Extended TPS for Syria Affects 
Through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) notice Extension of the Designation of Syria for Temporary Protected Status, re-registration is limited to individuals who previously registered for and were granted TPS under the designation for Syria. These individuals must have continuously resided in the U.S. since August 1, 2016, and have been continuously physically present in the U.S. since October 1, 2016. 
Current Syrian beneficiaries of TPS must submit Form I-821 to USCIS by November 22, 2019, to renew their status. Additionally, if the beneficiary wishes to extend their employment authorization, they must also submit a timely Form I-765 application for an employment authorization document (EAD). Because not all re-registrants will receive their new EAD before their old one expires on September 30, 2019, the USCIS is automatically extending the validity of those EADs for 180 days. This extension also covers individuals who applied for a new EAD during the last registration period who haven’t received their new EAD. 
Why DHS Decided to Extend TPS to Syria 
According to Department of Homeland Security acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan, “The decision to extend TPS for Syria was made after a review of the conditions upon which the country’s designation is based, which was ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions, as well as an assessment of whether those conditions continue to exist as required by statute.” 
Extension Rather Than Re-designation
In just 18 months, the DHS will re-evaluate conditions in Syria and choose to renew, re-designate, or end protections. While there is reason to celebrate the extension of TPS for Syria, it fails to offer a long-term solution for the nearly 7,000 beneficiaries. It also fails to address the other roughly 7,000 Syrians in the U.S. who don’t qualify for TPS because they arrived after the deadline in August 2016. 
What the TPS Extension Means for Employers
Through March 28, 2020, a TPS-based EAD with an expiration date of September 30, 2019—or March 31, 2018, for individuals who applied for a new TPS-based EAD during the last re-registration period but have not yet received it—along with a copy of the September 23, 2019, Federal Register notice or a Form I-797C receipt indicating that the EAD is automatically extended through March 28, 2020, are acceptable documentation for I-9 employment eligibility verification. 
TPS can create confusion for employers and individuals alike; if you or your business need assistance navigating this complex program, or wish to explore other legal immigration options, contact GoffWilson today. GoffWilson solely practices immigration law and for over 30 years has been helping businesses navigate the ever-changing U.S. immigration laws and assisting immigrants in achieving their American dreams. At GoffWilson, immigration isn’t just what we do—it’s our passion. 
Filed under:Immigration Law