DHS Announces Temporary Protected Status Eligibility for Afghan Nationals

On March 16, 2022, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designated Afghanistan for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). This designation offers unrestricted work authorization and protection against removal (deportation) for Afghan nationals who have been physically present in the U.S. since March 15, 2022. We recommend that eligible Afghan nationals plan to apply for TPS, and that employers raise this option with eligible employees.

As background, DHS may designate a country for TPS when conditions in that country prevent citizens from safely returning due to an ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. While temporary in nature, TPS designations may remain in place for many years. In addition to Afghanistan, TPS is currently designated for the following countries:  Burma (Myanmar), El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Yemen. Note that eligibility requirements, including required length of physical presence in the U.S., differ for each designated country. 

TPS does not supplant an applicant’s existing immigration visa status. Thus, even if a foreign national holds a valid temporary visa status (such as F-1, H-1B, L-1, O-1, or E-2), TPS can provide a valuable layer of added protection. 

To qualify for TPS under Afghanistan’s designation, an applicant must:

  • Be a national of Afghanistan, or a person without nationality who last habitually resided in Afghanistan;
  • File during the open initial registration period (to be announced shortly in the Federal Register); and
  • Have been continuously physically present in the United States since March 15, 2022.

Please contact any member of the Immigration practice group to assess filing eligibility, or with any additional questions regarding this LEGALcurrents or the TPS application process, at 585.232.6500.

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