November 20, 2014 was an important day for nationals from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea living in the United States on that historic day, as they woke up to news regarding much-anticipated immigration relief in the form of Temporary Protected Status, or TPS.
Temporary in nature, the grant of TPS for the three countries affected most by Ebola was for a period of 18 months. The initial registration period was from Nov. 21, 2014 to May 20, 2015.
The deadline was extended to Aug. 18, 2015. It requires that an individual is a national from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea, that they can document they were present in the US on the day of the designation, which is Nov. 20, 2014, and also that they have been in the US since that time.
Ebola-related TPS seekers must show that they are admissible otherwise, which means that individuals with previous interaction with immigration or who have a criminal history may not be eligible and should consult with a lawyer.
If someone is granted TPS they are eligible to apply for employment authorization to get a work permit, and eligible to apply for a travel document. Once employment authorization is granted, one can apply for a social security number.
TPS is a temporary benefit status for nationals of designated countries, usually those that have experienced a conflict, natural disaster, or some other extraordinary event. TPS gives these nationals a safe haven from feeling legally compelled to return to their country while their country experiences one of these extreme events. Haiti was designated as eligible for TPS following the earthquake in 2010.
"The general rationale behind TPS is that in circumstances of conflict or natural disaster, it is not safe for a national of the designated country to be returned to their country during the crisis, so they should be granted status in the United States," said former ASC Supervising Attorney Kate Webster.
"Also, given those extraordinary circumstances, nationals of the country in crisis should be allowed to work in the United States, not only to support themselves, but also to be able to send money home to friends and relatives who could be suffering from the conflict or natural disaster."
Click here to view and download the TPS Checklist in English and here for the French version.