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Joe Biden administration extends temporary protected status for immigrants

Joe Biden administration added Myanmar and Venzuela to the list of countries whose immigrants may be eligible to apply for TPS.  (REUTERS)Premium
Joe Biden administration added Myanmar and Venzuela to the list of countries whose immigrants may be eligible to apply for TPS.  (REUTERS)

  • Since President Joe Biden took office in January 2021, the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the program, has included Myanmar and Venezuela to the list of countries whose immigrants may be eligible to apply for TPS.

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Ever since United States President Joe Biden took office in January 2021, the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the program, has included Myanmar and Venezuela to the list of countries whose immigrants may be eligible to apply for Temporary Protected Status. TPS is a federal program that gives time-limited permission for some immigrants from certain countries to work and live in the United States.

Scores of immigrants in the US who do not want to return to dangerous conditions in their home countries have received extensions of Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

The department also extended benefits into 2022 and beyond for eligible immigrants from nine other nations, including El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. In addition, the Biden administration expanded eligibility for immigrants from Haiti based on recent turmoil. 

Overall, it is estimated that at least 700,000 immigrants from 12 countries currently have or are eligible to have a reprieve from deportation under TPS, which covers those who come from designated nations where it may not be safe to return because of war, hurricanes, earthquakes or other extraordinary conditions. The estimated total is based on those currently registered, in addition to those estimated to be eligible from Myanmar, Venezuela and under the expanded designation for Haiti.

Federal immigration officials may grant TPS status to immigrants for up to 18 months initially based on conditions in their home countries and may repeatedly extend eligibility if dangerous conditions persist.

Biden and congressional Democrats have proposed granting citizenship to TPS recipients who meet certain conditions. After taking office, Biden asked Congress to pass legislation that would allow TPS recipients who meet certain conditions to apply immediately for green cards that let them become lawful permanent residents. TPS currently does not make people automatically eligible for permanent residence or U.S. citizenship.

The legislation proposed by Biden and congressional Democrats would allow TPS holders to apply for citizenship three years after receiving a green card, which is two years earlier than usual for green-card holders. Citizenship would be granted if they pass additional background checks and meet the usual naturalization conditions of knowledge of English and U.S. civics.

The TPS provisions are a part of broader proposed legislation that would grant similar benefits to some unauthorized immigrant farmworkers and recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Other U.S. unauthorized immigrants, after applying for temporary legal status, would be required to wait five years to apply for a green card that would make them eligible for citizenship later.

In designating Venezuelans as eligible for TPS, the Biden administration said the country “is currently facing a severe humanitarian emergency" with impacts on its economy, human rights, medical care, crime, and access to food and basic services.

Additionally, in designation of Myanmar applies to immigrants who have lived in the U.S. since March 11, 2021, or earlier. About 1,600 people are estimated to be eligible, according to a Federal Register notice. US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas cited the impact of the February 1 military coup, including “continuing violence, pervasive arbitrary detentions, the use of lethal violence against peaceful protesters, and intimidation of the people of Burma."

To be granted TPS, applicants must meet filing deadlines, pay a fee and prove they have lived in the US continuously since the events that triggered relief from deportation. They also must meet criminal record requirements – for example, that they have not been convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanours while in the US, or been engaged in persecuting others or terrorism. Federal officials are required to announce at least 60 days before any TPS designation expires whether it will be extended. Without a decision, it automatically extends six months.

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