On November 20, 2014, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone were designated for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). This means that those who apply for and are granted TPS will be allowed to remain in the United States for 18 months (and possibly longer if TPS is extended). They will also be allowed to apply for work cards so that they can lawfully work while in the United States.
To qualify for TPS for Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, you must be from one of these countries and must have been in the United States on November 20, 2014. You may qualify for TPS even if you are currently out of status. If you are currently in a lawful immigration status on a non-immigrant visa, TPS may be able to provide you with additional immigration benefits. If in the United States and are from one of these countries, or know someone who is, you should discuss your situation with an immigration lawyer to determine if temporary protected status is a good choice for you.
What is Temporary Protected Status?
TPS provides a temporary legal immigration status to nationals of the country that is designated for temporary protected status. People who are granted TPS are eligible to remain in the United States and can obtain work authorization for as long as they meet the requirements for TPS.
TPS has some very specific requirements that are different than those for many other immigration programs. For example, any two misdemeanor convictions may make you ineligible for temporary protected status. If you have TPS or are considering applying for TPS and have had any arrests (even if your record was expunged or if you participated in a diversion program) or are arrested, you should consult with an immigration lawyer to understand what consequences the charges may have on your TPS status or TPS application.
If you have ever been in immigration court proceedings, you should discuss your case with an immigration attorney before you submit your TPS application. In some situations, you may still be eligible for TPS but may need to take additional steps in order to qualify.
Although TPS does not lead to permanent resident status, it may provide a safe refuge for those who cannot return to their home country because of the current Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. When TPS for these countries is terminated, you will return to the same immigration status that you had when you were granted TPS (unless that status has expired). However, if you become eligible for another immigration status while you have TPS, you may be able to change to that status. What options are available to you will depend on the specific details of your situation and you should discuss your options with an immigration lawyer before you make any decisions about your case.