Phl government formally requests TPS for Filipinos affected by typhoon Yolanda

IMMIGRATION CORNER - Michael J. Gurfinkel (The Philippine Star) - December 29, 2013 - 12:00am

In a previous article, I wrote about the possibility of Filipinos obtaining Temporary Protected Status (TPS) as a result of the devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda.  TPS is available for people who are already in the US, but conditions in their home country (such as armed conflict, hurricanes, earthquakes, or typhoons), make it difficult for them to return safely. If a particular country is designated for TPS, then citizens of that country could receive work authorization, temporary relief from deportation/removal, and possible authorization to travel to their home country. However, at the present time, the Philippines has not yet been designated for TPS.

Typically, in order to start the TPS process, the Philippine government must make the request to the US government. The good news is that recently, the Philippine government did just that: requested TPS. The request to designate the Philippines under Temporary Protected Status was officially conveyed on Friday, Dec. 13, by Philippine Ambassador José Cuisia Jr. to the Department of Homeland Security. According to Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, if the request is granted, the Philippines will join four other countries that were placed under TPS after going through similar natural catastrophes, including El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Honduras.

At present, the US government is evaluating the TPS request, which may take some time. We will continue to keep you updated on the developments.

If TPS is granted, a person cannot be removed/deported/detained by DHS on the basis of his or her immigration status in the US.

To be eligible for TPS status the person,

• Must be a national/citizen of a country designated for TPS

• Must register for TPS status during the initial registration period. (As noted above, the Philippines has not yet been designated for TPS, so there’s nothing to register for now.)

• Must demonstrate that he or she has been “continuously physically present” in the US since the effective date of the TPS designation. So, make sure you save documentation demonstrating that you have been in the US.

• Must not have been convicted of any felonies or two or more misdemeanors, and is not “inadmissible” on certain other immigration grounds.

• While TPS itself does not lead to lawful permanent resident status, a person can also apply for adjustment of status or other immigration benefit, if eligible for that benefit.

Once again, I want to emphasize that the Philippines has not yet been designated for TPS, so there is nothing to apply for now. However if the Philippines should receive TPS designation, and you believe you are eligible, I would advise that you seek the advice of an attorney, who can evaluate your situation, including if you are eligible, and handle the preparation and submission of the forms and application.

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