Frequently asked questions about TPS
On December 13, the Philippine ambassador to the United States, Jose L. Cuisia, made a formal request to the US Department of State to designate the Philippines a country under “temporary protected status (TPS).” This request was sent about a month after Supertyphoon “Yolanda” struck the Philippines.
But what type of humanitarian relief is TPS? How will the grant of TPS assist in the recovery efforts of those affected by the typhoon in addition to the aid that is already underway?
Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos residing in the US could benefit from the protection that will be provided by TPS. To better understand the nature of TPS, here are the frequently asked questions about this relief.
What is TPS?
Temporary protected status is a special type of immigration protection given to a national of a country designated by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for TPS. It is not a permanent grant but it provides protection against deportation for its beneficiaries, who may be in the country on temporary visas or even unlawfully. If granted, an applicant for TPS will be allowed to continue to stay and work in the US. He or she will receive a work permit and travel documents.
In general, a certain country is designated for TPS in limited cases when humanitarian circumstances arise. The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a foreign country for TPS due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, when the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately. The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may designate a country for TPS due to the following temporary conditions in the country: (1) ongoing armed conflict (such as civil war); (2) an environmental disaster (such as earthquake or hurricane), or (3) an epidemic or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.
The Philippine government has requested that Philippines be designated for TPS because of the recent devastation caused by Yolanda.
Who are qualified?
As of this writing, the Philippine government is still awaiting for official TPS designation from the DHS. Assuming that the Philippines is designated and guidelines are released, all “eligible Filipinos” residing in the US who are currently in temporary status or in unlawful status are eligible for TPS subject to certain restrictions. Those qualified must show that they are nationals of the Philippines, are present in the US at the time of the application for TPS and continuously residing in the US since the effective date of the most recent designation date.
Those who are not eligible to apply are those who have been convicted of a felony or convictions of two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States. Those who are engaged in or inciting terrorist activity are definitely ineligible.
Is TPS applicable only to Filipinos who are directly affected by Yolanda?
According to the information released by the Philippine Embassy, the request is for “eligible Filipinos” residing in the US. It did not state whether the request is limited to those who have families or relatives residing in areas directly affected by the typhoon.
In a conversation with a Philippine Embassy official, it was mentioned that even those whose families are not living within the geographical area affected by the typhoon may be considered. All Filipinos are considered affected. The devastation transcends physical boundaries affected by the storm and the efforts to rebuild and rehabilitate must come from all Filipino nationals residing in the Philippines and abroad. Ambassador Cuisia explained in his press statement that a “TPS designation for the Philippines would allow eligible Filipinos currently in the US to support the long-term relief and rehabilitation efforts in the country because they could be given temporary authorization to stay and work for a limited period.”
How long will it last?
TPS is usually granted for varying periods depending on the US Department of Homeland Security guidelines. For other TPS countries, usually it is granted for a period of 18 months. When a TPS designation ends, beneficiaries revert to the immigration status they had prior to TPS or to any other status they may have been granted while in TPS.
For example an applicant has an expired visa and was granted temporary protection during the TPS designation, once the 18 months end, this individual will revert back to being in unlawful status. Or, the applicant may have changed status depending on whether this applicant pursued other alternative options for legalizing his stay during the time his TPS was valid.
It must be clear that TPS is not amnesty but simply a temporary relief.
While the TPS request was made for all “eligible Filipinos” residing in the US, each application will be examined and approved on a case-by-case basis. As of this moment, while waiting for the DHS to designate the Philippines as TPS country, all concerned Filipino abroad should continue to send their relief aid and to partake in rehabilitation efforts to assist those directly impacted by Supertyphoon Yolanda.
(Atty. Lourdes S. Tancinco may be reached at email@example.com or at 7211963 or visit her website at www.tancinco.com)