USCIS Grants Temporary Protected Status to Syrians in the U.S.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced on March 29, 2012, that Syrian nationals – and persons without nationality who last habitually resided in Syria – will be eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The change was made in the wake of the current violence and upheaval in Syria.

The TPS designation for the Syian Arab Republic (Syria) was announced by Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, and will remain in effect through September 30, 2013. The designation ends the removal of Syrian nationals from the United States, and makes such persons eligible to apply for employment authorization. There is a 180-day registration period which ends on September 25, 2012.

Syrian nationals wishing to apply for Temporary Protected Status must meet certain eligibility requirements, including demonstrating that they have been continually present and resided in the United States since March 29, 2012. In addition, they must pass a thorough background check. Individuals who pose a threat to national security or who have a criminal background will not be eligible for TPS.

Since the beginning of of 2011, Syria has been wracked by widespread social protest and an often violent crackdown by security forces. The conflict is part of the larger Arab Spring movement, in which multiple Middle Eastern countries have experienced social and political revolutions, with varying degrees of effectiveness, some violent, some less so. In Syria, according to the United Nations, approximately 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict, and tens of thousands have been injured. More than 130,000 Syrian nationals have fled to neighboring countries to escape the violence.

The fighting has been most prominent in Homs, the third-largest city in Syria. Homs emerged as the center of the uprising, and government forces bombarded the city for months, leading to loss of life and destroyed buildings, before U.N. observers moved in.

The head of a U.N. observer mission in Syria has called on President Bashar Assad and the country’s rebels to observe a cease-fire. Major General Robert Mood, a Norwegian, faced an uphill battle, as skirmishes continued to break out throughout the country, and many observers feared the worst: civil war.

As the turmoil in their home country continues, Syrian nationals in the United States will be eligible for TPS granting Syrians in the U.S. With a safe haven for now. There are seven other countries currently designated for TPS: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan.

Stewart Rabinowitz is President of Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C. Mr. Rabinowitz is Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. To contact a Dallas immigration lawyer or Dallas immigration attorney visit