The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Wednesday night that it will extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Syrians living in the U.S. who currently hold TPS for a period of 18 months. As the Associated Press first reported prior to the announcement, the U.S. government has capped enrollment under the program and will not let any new Syrian citizens apply. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen made the following statement:
“After carefully considering conditions on the ground, I have determined that it is necessary to extend the Temporary Protected Status designation for Syria. It is clear that the conditions upon which Syria’s designation was based continue to exist, therefore an extension is warranted under the statute. We will continue to determine each country’s TPS status on a country-by-country basis.”
This 18-month extension of Syria’s designation for TPS permits current Syrian TPS beneficiaries to re-register for TPS and remain in the United States with work authorization through September 30, 2019. To be eligible for TPS under Syria’s current designation, along with meeting the other eligibility requirements, individuals must have continuously resided in the United States since August 1, 2016, and have been continuously physically present in the United States since October 1, 2016. Anyone who has been here since the time of the previous designation may be eligible to seek other forms of immigration relief.
The TPS extension – which grants temporary work authorization to certain immigrants – would affect nearly 7,000 Syrians living in the U.S. TPS does not confer a pathway to citizenship but in two federal circuits – the 9th and the 6th (which includes Ohio) – the appeals courts have ruled that TPS holders may be eligible to adjust status to lawful permanent residence (green card) under certain circumstances.