February 1, 2013 (WASHINGTON) – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that citizens of Sudan and South Sudan who were present in the United States on January 9, 2013 will be allowed to apply for work permits under a special program known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
- DHS announcement on Sudan & South Sudan TPS (USCIS website)
Previously only those who entered the US on or before to October 7, 2004 were allowed to apply.
Those granted TPS will be eligible to temporarily stay beyond the expiration of their visas and prevents the US government from deporting them even if they were in the country illegally.
After the independence of South Sudan in 2011 the US government added the newborn nation to the list of countries that are designated under TPS.
The US Congress established a procedure by which the DHS Secretary may provide TPS to aliens in the United States who are temporarily unable to safely return to their home country because of ongoing armed conflict, the temporary effects of an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.
During the period for which a country has been designated under the TPS program, the registrants are allowed to remain in the United States and obtain work authorization and may not be deported unless they commit certain crimes.
However TPS does not lead to permanent residence in the US which is better known as the ‘green card’. Several bills in the US Congress to grant permanent residence to some TPS beneficiaries have stalled.
The Federal register notice released last month said that the DHS Secretary has determined that an 18-month extension in Sudan is warranted because the armed conflict is ongoing and the extraordinary" and temporary conditions that prompted the November 4, 1997 designation and the last redesignation on October 7, 2004 persist".
"The Secretary has further determined that the conditions in Sudan, which have deteriorated, support redesignating Sudan for TPS and changing the "continuous residence’’ and "continuous physical presence’’ dates so as to continue affording TPS protection to the approximately 300 Sudanese nationals who arrived in the United States before October 7, 2004 and registered under the initial designation or redesignations and to extend TPS protection to eligible Sudanese nationals who arrived between October 7, 2004 and January 9, 2013".
The notice pointed out that "ongoing armed conflict throughout much of Sudan has caused continued insecurity and has led to continued internal displacement and refugee flight into neighboring countries. Violence and ensuing population displacement, along with environmental and economic factors, have created one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. Efforts by the international community to get aid to the civilian population continue to be severely compromised by threats to the safety of aid workers and restrictions on the movement and operations of aid organizations".
As for South Sudan DHS said in a separate notice that "ongoing armed conflict throughout much of South Sudan caused continued insecurity and led to continued internal displacement and refugee flight into neighboring countries, even as South Sudanese return to South Sudan en masse. Violence and ensuing population displacement, along with environmental and economic factors, have created one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. Efforts by the international community to get aid to the civilian population continue to be severely compromised by weather-related factors, poor infrastructure, and threats to the safety of aid workers".