In light of the destruction which the Philippines have experienced in the last couple of weeks, it will be interesting to see whether the Obama Administration declares Temporary Protected Status for people from the Philippines who are currently in the US.
Under INA section 244, The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may designate a country, or portions of a country, for TPS when conditions exist such as an ongoing armed conflict or an environmental disaster in the country that temporarily prevents the country’s nationals from returning safely. While not required, typically a country must first request TPS before the Secretary will make a designation. Once a country receives a TPS designation, nationals of that country residing in the U.S. receive a temporary, humanitarian form of relief from deportation that does not include the granting of permanent residence. The initial TPS designation lasts for a period of 6 to 18 months and can be extended if conditions continue to support the designation.
To be initially eligible for TPS, an individual must:
- Be a national of a country designated for TPS, or a person without nationality who last habitually resided in the designated country;
- Register for TPS status during the initial registration period;
- Demonstrate continuous physical presence in the U.S. since the effective date of the designation; and
- Demonstrate continuous residence in the U.S. since the date specified in the designation.
A person who receives TPS or is found to be preliminarily eligible for TPS is not removable from the U.S., can obtain work authorization, and may be granted travel authorization. Once granted TPS, an individual cannot be detained by DHS on the basis of his or her immigration status in the U.S., unless the individual becomes ineligible or the country loses its designation. Healthcare workers in the US would still need to meet all other requirements for employment as a healthcare worker including education, licensure, and healthcare certificate.
The decision to designate a country for TPS rests with the executive branch of the federal government. Congress does not vote on it, though members of Congress may ask the President to designate a particular country. However, it is up to the President and his agencies to make the final determination.
We will keep you updated as soon as anything official is announced.