September 1, 2014 (WASHINGTON) – The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is set to announce that citizens of South Sudan who were present in the United States on or before September 2, 2014 will be allowed to apply for work permits under a special program known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
- United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
Previously only those who entered the US on or before to November 3, 2011 were allowed to apply.
The redesignation of South Sudan for TPS is effective November 3, 2014, and will remain in effect through May 2, 2016, a period of 18 months.
The Federal register notice seen by Sudan Tribune that is scheduled to be released on Tuesday, justified expanding TPS eligibility for South Sudanese currently in the US on the grounds that “In November 2013, the United Nations (UN) Office of Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that the situation in South Sudan remained fragile but had potential to improve. OCHA cited a number of positive developments during 2013, including a reduction in deaths and population displacement caused by violence, improved food security, and a decrease in refugees”
“However, by mid-December 2013, less than 1 month after OCHA released its report, political infighting within the government of the Republic of South Sudan (RSS) had set off a catastrophic chain of events that have plunged the country to the brink of civil war”.
“Conditions in South Sudan have become increasingly volatile and dangerous since December 15, 2013, when long-standing political tensions between President Salva Kiir Mayardit (an ethnic Dinka) and former vice president, Dr. Riek Machar Teny (an ethnic Nuer) sparked an outbreak of violence in Juba within the Presidential Guard unit”.
The notice estimates that an additional 300 to 500 individuals may be eligible for TPS under the redesignation of South Sudan.
Those granted TPS are eligible to temporarily stay beyond the expiration of their visas and the US government cannot deport them even if they were in the country illegally.
Nonetheless, South Sudanese in the U.S. must still apply for the status by the set deadline and must undergo a full background check before it is granted.
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.
Syria, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan are on the list of countries whose citizens are eligible for temporary protected status.
In a separate notice that will also be released on Tuesday, DHS extended TPS for Sudanese nationals as well.
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 tabled in the US Congress to grant permanent residence to some TPS beneficiaries have stalled.