By Jane Cowley
Some nationals of Liberia (and individuals having no nationality who last habitually resided in Liberia), may be residing in the U.S.A. as a beneficiary of Temporary Protected Status (TPS). If you or members of your family are beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status, it’s important to know that the designations of TPS for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone terminate effective May 21, 2017.
The Secretary of Homeland Security (HS) designated Liberia for TPS in November 2014. The designation was due to the extraordinary and temporary conditions caused by an epidemic of Ebola Virus Disease in West Africa that prevented nationals of Liberia from returning to Liberia in safety. During the TPS designation period, beneficiaries are eligible to remain in the U.S.A, may not be removed, and are authorized to work and obtain employment authorization, as long as they continue to meet TPS requirements.
After reviewing country conditions and consulting with the appropriate U.S. government agencies, former Secretary of HS, Jeh Johnson, determined that conditions in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone no longer support their designations for TPS. The widespread transmission of Ebola virus in the three countries that led to the designations has ended. The Department of HS announced this decision in 2016.
To provide sufficient time for an orderly transition, the Department of HS gave beneficiaries, under these three designations, eight-months advance notice of the expiration. Notices were published in the Federal Register on Sept. 22, 2016, posted on the USCIS website, and pushed out through the media. These notices urged individuals, who did not have another immigration status, to use the time before the terminations became effective in May, to prepare for and arrange their departure from the U.S.A. or to apply for other immigration benefits for which they may be eligible.
Although TPS benefits will no longer be in effect starting May 21, 2017, TPS beneficiaries will continue to hold any other immigration status that they have maintained or acquired while registered for TPS. Individuals with no other lawful immigration status on May 21, will no longer be protected from removal or be eligible for employment authorization based on TPS.
TPS-related Employment Authorization Documents issued under the Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone designations are only valid through May 20, 2017, and will not be renewed or extended.
If you have questions about TPS, additional information is available at uscis.gov/tps.