Florida residents may have heard of the term Temporary Protected Status used by immigration officials when a country has been struck by a natural disaster or an armed conflict has broken out. The designation is issued to a foreign country by the Secretary of Homeland Security when it would be unsafe for its citizens to return home or conditions are such that their return would be impractical.
When a country has been designated as having Temporary Protected Status, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security may not detain any of its citizens who are in the U.S. due to their immigration status. Individuals who are not citizens of one of the countries affected by such events may also be protected by Temporary Protected Status if they previously resided there.
Temporary Protected Status is a short-term benefit, and those covered under such a designation do not qualify for permanent residence in the U.S. However, they may obtain an employment authorization document and begin the process of pursuing nonimmigrant status. While a Temporary Protected Status designation may allow an individual to pursue nonimmigrant benefits, it does not mean that they will qualify for them. Countries designated for Temporary Protected Status as of November 2014 include Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Haiti and El Salvador.
The Temporary Protected Status demonstrates that the U.S. is willing to offer shelter and protection to those who could face an uncertain future if they were to return home. Living and working legally in the U.S. is likely the ultimate goal for many who receive this designation, but the path to legal residence might be confusing and frustrating. Although the information in this blog is not considered legal advice, an immigration attorney could offer assistance to those seeking asylum, an employment visa or permanent residency in the U.S.
Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “Temporary Protected Status“, November 08, 2014