TPS Granted to Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone
Homeland Security has designated Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone for Temporary Protected Status due to the recent outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. The 18-month TPS is effective November 21, 2014 and the registration period runs from November 21, 2014 through May 20, 2015. Eligible nationals of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone and those who last habitually resided in one of the three countries may apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) through TPS.
Liberian nationals already covered under the extended Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) may apply for TPS, though they must do so during the initial 180-day registration period. Those already in possession of an EAD through DED need not apply for a TPS-related EAD; however, they may choose to do so later as long as TPS is still in effect.
Applicants must undergo a background check and satisfy all other eligibility requirements, listed here on the USCIS website: http://www.uscis.gov/tps.
ICE Closing Artesia Detention Center
Due to a decrease in illegal border crossing activity, the Artesia detention facility in New Mexico is scheduled to close at the end of the year. ICE has ceased taking in new immigrants at Artesia and plans to send remaining detainees to one of two other detention centers in Texas.
Living conditions at the Artesia center, which houses mainly asylum seeking mothers and children, have been called into question. Some have reported sexual abuse and many detained mothers are unable to contact outside family or legal counsel, rendering them unable to adequately prepare for their own asylum hearings. Advocates and lawmakers have presented statistics showing that women applying for asylum from within a center are significantly less likely to be successful than those who apply from outside.
The closing of Artesia is a step in the right direction, but the problematic practice of family detention still remains. Despite public criticism of family detention, a 2,400 bed detention facility has been opened in Dilley, Texas. Remaining Artesia detainees and future detained immigrants will be sent either to the Dilley center or the facility in Karnes City, Texas.
U.S. and China Extend Short-Term Visas
President Obama announced that both the U.S. and China will extend short-term visas in order to foster a healthy business relationship between the two countries. Multiple entry short-term tourist and business visas have been extended from one year to ten years. Student visas have been extended from one year to five years. These visa extensions are effective as of November 12, 2014.
DHS Increases Security Precautions for Visa Waiver Program
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson announced the addition of several security questions to the travel application for those entering the US from countries in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Travelers entering the U.S. through VWP are now required to provide information regarding passport data, contact information, and alternate names or aliases. This security measure will provide DHS with more information about travelers from VWP-eligible countries and will not hinder travel between the U.S. and other countries in the program.
Disclaimer: This newsletter is provided as a public service and not intended to establish an attorney client relationship. Any reliance on information contained herein is taken at your own risk.