The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced this week that it has extended the designation of Syria and that it is redesignating Syria for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months from April 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016. The extension will enable individuals who are already covered by TPS to retain this protection and the redesignation will permit eligible Syrian nationals who have been continuously living in the in the United States since January 5, 2015 to apply for TPS. Furthermore, individuals who are covered by TPS will be able to apply for a new employment authorization document. Eligible individuals will have to re-register for TPS from January 5, 2015 through March 6, 2015 and will be issued employment authorization documents with an expiration of September 30, 2016. First-time applicants applying for TPS must submit an application during the registration period covering January 5, 2015 through 180 days after publication. Individuals can find more information, including the applications for TPS at: http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/temporary-protected-status-deferred-enforced-departure/tps-designated-country-syria/temporary-protected-status-designated-country-syria

DHS is automatically extending the employment authorization for eligible individuals for six months (through September 30, 2015) in order to allow them to apply and receive their new employment authorization documents. A copy of the Federal Register Notice granting this automatic extension of employment authorization is sufficient documentation for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, purposes. Employers should re-verify the employment authorization of these individuals prior to September 30, 2015. At that point, the individuals must provide a valid employment authorization document in order to continue to demonstrate their ability to continue working in the United States.

The DHS designates a country for TPS when conditions in the country are dangerous. This may be due to armed conflict, environmental disasters or other temporary events. TPS provides certain protections to nationals of the designated country such as protection from removal from the United States, eligibility for an employment authorization document and travel authorization. TPS is not a path to US lawful permanent residence. The following countries are currently designated by the DHS for TPS: El Salvador, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Liberia, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Syria.