Most Recent Registration Period: January 17, 2017 – March 20, 2017
Current Expiration Date: September 17, 2018
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) For Somalia is our country’s oldest TPS program.
According to Rand Beers, former director of the U.S Department of Homeland Security, the extensions of TPS have been warranted because the conditions in Somalia that prompted the TPS designation remain ongoing.
There continues to be a substantial, but temporary, disruption of living conditions in Somalia based upon ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions in that country that prevent Somalis who have TPS from safely returning.
Based on this review, the Department of Homeland Security determined the 18-month extension was appropriate.
A special humanitarian program, Temporary Protected Status, was created in 1990.
The policy behind TPS is to provide immigrants with a temporary safe harbor while they are not capable of returning safely to their home country due to armed conflict like war, an environmental disaster, war, and other extraordinary severe conditions.
Somalia Temporary Protected Status History
On September 16, 1991, Somalia was designated for TPS status for the first time. This initial TPS designation was extended nine times.
First Redesignation Period
In September 2001, Somalian TPS was extended for a tenth time. In addition, immigration authorities redesignated Somalia for TPS.
Under the 2001 redesignation, the dates for Somalis to show they had been “continuously residing” in and “continuously physically present” in the United States were modified to September 4, 2001.
Following the redesignation, TPS was extended nine times, the last being on May 1, 2012.
Second Redesignation Period
At that time, DHS not only extended TPS for Somalia. The Department again redesignated Somalia for TPS. Under this new redesignation, both the continuous residence and continuous physical presence dates were adjusted again.
The continuous residence date was changed to May 1, 2012 and the continuous physical presence date was changed to September 18, 2012.
As before, under TPS, each new period of authorization is limited to 18 months.
The most recent extensions lasted from March 18, 2014 to September 17, 2015 to March 17, 2017. The current expiration date is September 17, 2018.
Conflict in Somalia: A Temporary Conflict?
The long-term “temporary” status raises questions whether the TPS designation remains valid for Somalia.
During an earlier re-designation period, former DHS secretary Janet Napolitano had noted, “Somalia remains in a state of chaos characterized by the lack of a central government, a crippled economy, the absence of social structures, destruction of infrastructure, and generalized insecurity in the form of banditry, kidnapping, looting, revenge killings, targeted assassinations, suicide car-bombings, and inter-clan fighting.”
Due to such ongoing problems after two decades, the conflict in Somalia should no longer be viewed as a temporary condition.
It is time for the U.S. government to create a path for citizenship for TPS holders from Somalia.
There are only 250 – 300 Somalia immigrants eligible for TPS re-registration. A a citizenship path for such a small number would not place an undue burden U.S. resources.
Temporary Protected Status Benefits
The following benefits are granted as part of winning TPS status:
- You are allowed to have valid immigration status for the 18 month period
- You are eligible for a work permit, which allows you to work legally in the United States
- You may be able to halt deportation and removal proceedings against you
- You are eligible to later adjust your immigration status, if you meet certain requirements, and become a lawful permanent resident
- You are eligible to apply for permission to travel abroad
Somalia TPS Requirements
To qualify for TPS status, you must prove:
- You must be a Somalia national (or a person without nationality who last resided in Somalia)
- You must have been physically present in the U.S. since September 18, 2012
- You must have continuously resided in the U.S. since May 1, 2012
- You must meet all applicable immigration and TPS requirements, and successfully pass a background inspection
If you’re a Somali TPS beneficiary, keep a close eye on the expiration date and re-registration filing period. When new deadlines are set, you should not delay and take unnecessary risks.
As a San Diego immigration lawyer, I encourage clients to file as early as possible.
In an unfortunate twist, every time TPS is extended, for any country, there are some immigrants who do not file their papers on time. Do not be one of them. Do not until the last moment to file your application.
If you would like to know more about TPS for Somalia, here is the USCIS link: USCIS Fact Sheet on Somalia.
By Carlos Batara, Immigration Law, Policy, And Politics