December 27, 2013
Now that the Philippine government has formally requested Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Filipino citizens, there is a strong indication that TPS may indeed be granted in the very near future. There is much hope of TPS approval since the final decision to grant TPS rests solely with President Obama and DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, rather than requiring Congressional approval. The past few years has shown that President Obama is willing to move forward with avenues for relief that can be pursued without the need for Congressional approval, such as Deferred Action and Provisional Unlawful Presence Waivers, and so it appears very hopeful that he will similarly act in providing TPS to Filipinos.
TPS is a valuable tool that will allow Filipinos in the United States to help their fellow countrymen with the long-term effort of rebuilding the Philippines. While the direct physical destruction is only to the central region of the Philippines, it is clear that the displacement of hundreds of thousands whose homes have been destroyed and the significant economic impact is felt throughout the Philippines. For that reason, TPS would in all likelihood be provided to all Filipino citizens and not just those directly affected by Typhoon Haiyan.
TPS would grant Filipino citizens lawful nonimmigrant status in the U.S., thereby relieving them of the grief and fear of deportation. TPS would also allow Filipino citizens the ability to obtain a work permit, which would then allow them to obtain a Social Security number and drivers license. As well, TPS would provide Filipinos with the ability to obtain advance parole so that they could travel to see their loved ones overseas.
The ability to obtain TPS, a work permit, and advance parole would be available to Philippine citizens who are either in the U.S. unlawfully or lawfully. TPS would also be available to those who are currently in removal proceedings, as well as those who have already been ordered deported or removed from the U.S. by an immigration judge.
Filipino citizens who would not be eligible for TPS are those who have been convicted of a felony or 2 or more misdemeanors. Individuals who have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude or a drug-related offense also would not qualify for TPS. For individuals who are inadmissible to the U.S. for other reasons, such as because they committed fraud or misrepresentation, they would be required to apply for a waiver in order to be granted TPS. To be granted a waiver, they must demonstrate that granting of the waiver serves humanitarian purposes, family unity, or is in the public interest.
An individual granted TPS would receive protected status and a work permit valid for up to 18 months. Individuals would be able to extend TPS status and benefits for up to 18 months at a time for as long as the DHS renews the TPS designation of the Philippines. Considering that it will require many years for the Philippines to recover from the unprecedented devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan, as well as the experience of other countries that have previously been granted TPS, ongoing renewal of TPS designation for the Philippines seems more than likely.
In anticipation of TPS becoming a reality, Filipinos should start preparing the documents that will be necessary for the application. Individuals should move forward with ensuring that they have a valid government issued identification, such as a driver’s license or Philippine passport. Vital documents, like birth certificates issued by the National Statistics Office, marriage certificates, death certificates, and divorce judgments, should be obtained. Individuals should also start saving documents now that show their continuous residence in the U.S., such as employment records, rent receipts, utility bills, school records, and medical records.
The DHS would specify a strict filing period of typically 6 months wherein individuals can submit TPS applications. Although there are provisions for filing late applications, it is very limited and restricted. Accordingly, individuals must be proactive in ensuring that they timely submit well-prepared applications, as the opportunities that would be provided under TPS are life altering.