Temporary Protected Status designation is given to nationals of countries that have been devastated by natural disasters or armed conflicts, making it unsafe for individuals to return. On May 12th 2015, the Nepali government formally requested TPS designation for its nationals present in the US after a 7.4 magnitude earthquake devastated the country on April 26th, 2015. Since then, 64 aftershocks have rocked Nepal, hampering, and in many instances postponing, efforts to rebuild.
Nepalis who have been residing in the US since June 24, 2015 will have until December 21, 2015 to submit applications for TPS, which will allow these New Yorkers to remain in the US lawfully, receive work authorization, and be able to apply for permission to travel if needed to check on loved ones back home. Nepalis can apply for TPS regardless of immigration status – or lack thereof – subject to certain criminal bars. The designation will be valid until December 24, 2016, at which time the Department of Homeland Security will make a determination whether or not to renew the designation for an additional period of time.
To assist all eligible Nepalis, the New York Immigration Coalition, Adhikaar, government entities and community members announced a coordinated strategy to hold regular group assistance events and refer clients to appropriate, legitimate providers for one on one representation. At the press conference, NYIC and Adhikaar spoke about next steps for New York’s Nepali community.
“We thank Secretary Johnson and President Obama’s administration for making this decision, which will have a significant impact on Nepalis living in the United States and working to rebuild their country,” a press release issued by the New York Immigration Coalition quoted the organization’s executive director Steven Choi as saying. “Over the past six weeks, we have worked closely with local and national advocates on this successful campaign, and are truly privileged to support this resilient community in New York. We look forward to working with our partners to help Nepali immigrants receive the services they need to take full advantage of this opportunity.”
Luna Ranjit, executive director of Adhikaar, an organization that promotes human rights and social justice for Nepali-speaking communities said an estimated 10,000 to 25,000 Nepali nationals will be eligible to benefit from TPS. She said her organization was out to the community to make sure that everyone who is eligible will sign up for TPS.
Showing his commitment to New York’s Nepali community to celebrate the TPS designation, Representative Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx) said: “As the people of Nepal continue to mourn the lives lost and struggle to recover from this terrible tragedy, I’m proud our nation will continue its tradition of humanitarian support by granting TPS to Nepalis currently in our country. This is a critical step that will allow those in Queens and in communities across the country to remain here until the Nepali government is better suited to handle their return, thus helping Nepal’s government focus on their important recovery efforts. I thank the many advocates, including the New York Immigration Coalition, who have stood by Nepali New Yorkers throughout this crisis, and who are ready to lead in the effort to assist eligible Nepalis and ensure they get the services they need.”
Joining NYIC and Adhikaar to discuss next steps for Nepalis applying for TPS, Council Member Mathieu Eugene said, “After the devastating earthquake in Nepal, the number one priority for families must be to heal. Granting Temporary Protected Status (TPS) allows individuals who were in the United States during the tragedy to remain here and apply for jobs while their home is rebuilt. I’ve been a long-time advocate for this and I want to thank my colleagues who supported the resolution I introduced in the City Council calling for TPS for Nepal. I commend the Obama administration and the Department of Homeland Security for granting this assistance to the many people who need relief. I’d also like to thank the Consulate General of Nepal, the Permanent Mission of Nepal to the United Nations, and my fellow advocate for immigrant rights, Sen. Chuck Schumer, for being instrumental in this victory.”
Demonstrating the City and State’s commitment to supporting New York’s Nepali community, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and the New York State Office of New Americans expressed their support.
“New York City commends the Department of Homeland Security for providing this much-needed humanitarian relief to Nepalis in the United States, and we are proud to have joined the Nepalese community in requesting TPS for Nepal,” said Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs, Nisha Agarwal. “The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs is committed to helping community members connect with safe, credible legal help and avoid fraudulent providers so that individuals who are eligible can apply and obtain temporary status.”
To be eligible for TPS, applicants must demonstrate that they satisfy all eligibility criteria, including that they have been both “continuously physically present” and “continuously residing” in the United States since June 24, 2015. Applicants also undergo thorough security checks. Individuals with certain criminal records or who pose a threat to national security are not eligible for TPS. The eligibility requirements are fully described in the Federal Register notices and on the TPS Web page at www.uscis.gov/tps.