Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Afghans

Afghan Evacuation and Resettlemnt

The Biden administration is considering granting Temporary Protected Status for Afghans who have arrived in the United States following their evacuation from Afghanistan in August 2021 and in the months after that period. Some reports on Twitter and LinkedIn suggest The White House will soon post an announcement about providing Temporary Protected Status for Afghans. This would be in addition to the Humanitarian Parole status that thousands of Afghans have already received in the aftermath of the chaotic Kabul non-combatant evacuation operation.

TPS is a temporary designation that allows its beneficiaries to live and work in the United States. It also allows them to travel in and out of the United States for the duration of an ’emergency’ and protects them from removal proceedings for lack of a visa or legal status. TPS is usually authorized during natural disasters, outbreak of disease, or during an ongoing conflict. There are at least 24 countries that have been granted temporary protected status.

The program has been in existence since it was established by Congress in 1990. TPS is a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program. The initial TPS designation is usually for 18 months; but it can be renewed indefinitely. The authority to grant a country TPS designation is held by the secretary of homeland security.

There are nearly 320,000 TPS holders who currently live in the United States. President Biden has moved to expand TPS protections for Haitians and Venezuelans in the past year. Most TPS beneficiaries come from El Salvador (198K) and Honduras (60K). The TPS program has a goal of providing a temporary safe haven for individuals. It isn’t a path to permanent residency.

If Temporary Protected Status for Afghans is implemented then there are a number of eligibility requirements to be met. This includes registration with the USCIS, physical presence in the United States, continuous residence in the United States, no serious criminal record, and a few others. Applying for asylum or some other type of immigration may be a more preferable route than TPS, as TPS is temporary in nature. While in the United States with TPS an Afghan could use that time for application for asylum or some other type of immigration status.

The various organizations that are advocating for assistance for Afghans resettled in the United States, in refugee camps overseas, or at-risk Afghans remaining in Afghanistan seem split on the usefulness of Temporary Protected Status for Afghans. Some organizations are supporting Temporary Protected Status for Afghans. However, there are many organizations that think it weakens the initiative to get Congress to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act.

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Comments on this article can be sent to staff@afghanwarnews.info. The Afghan Report accepts guest articles about advocacy issues relating to Afghan resettlement and immigration. Got a point of view that you would like to express? Let us know.

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References:

“Temporary Protected Status”, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/temporary-protected-status

“What Is Temporary Protected Status”, Council on Foreign Relations, Backgrounder
https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/what-temporary-protected-status

“Information for Afghans”, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/information-for-afghans

Image: Derived from four photographs by DVIDS. Images are in the public domain.