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Temporary protected status was first authorized by Congress in 1990 as a means of granting a form of lawful immigration status to persons from certain designated countries.

In many cases this may be the only means relief available to persons who would otherwise face removal proceedings and ultimately being removed (deported) from the United States.

Congress enacted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in recognition of the fact that many individuals cannot reasonably and safely return to their home country because of some temporary circumstance such as political/military conflicts, natural disasters or other extremely harsh conditions. The authority to determine which countries meet the requirements of designation for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and the administration of this program rests with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

In addition to the obvious benefit of being able to remain lawfully in the United States, (albeit temporarily), the beneficiaries of TPS are also eligible to obtain an employment authorization document (EAD) allowing them to legally work in the United States as long as they remain in protected status.

Finally, it is important to understand that as valuable as this status may be for the beneficiaries, Temporary Protected Status is just that, “TEMPORARY” and, as such is subject to periodic review by the Department of Homeland Security in order to renew or terminate a particular country and its eligible nationals and residents.

Who is Eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?
Currently only eligible nationals and residents of the following countries may be beneficiaries of TPS status:

Ø Burundi: The designation of Burundi for TPS has been terminated effective 12:01 a.m. May 2, 2009.  To maintain TPS benefits through May 1, 2009, Burundian TPS beneficiaries must comply with re-registration requirements. Most recent TPS re-registration period from October 29, 2007, to December 28, 2007.  Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) are automatically extended through May 2, 2008.

Ø El Salvador: Currently designated through September 9, 2010. The 90-day re-registration begins October 1, 2008, and ends December 30, 2008.

Ø Honduras : Currently designated through July 5, 2010. The 60-day re-registration begins October 1, 2008, and ends December 1, 2008.

Ø Nicaragua : Currently designated through July 5, 2010. The 60-day re-registration begins October 1, 2008, and ends December 1, 2008.

Ø Somalia: Currently designated through September 17, 2009. Most recent TPS re-registration period from March 12, 2008, to May 12, 2008. EADs are automatically extended through September 17, 2008.

Ø Sudan: Currently designated through May 2, 2010. The 60-day re-registration began August 14, 2008, and ends October 14, 2008. EADs are automatically extended through May 2, 2009.

Note that Haiti is not among the list of TPS designated nations. Haiti Has Been Granted TPS !!! Haiti, in our opinion, should absolutely be designated as a TPS country for a host of reasons. We respectfully ask that you contact your representatives in Congress and the Department of Homeland Security to keep up the pressure to make Haiti a TPS country.

Immigration Attorney Referral

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When an officer of Immigration and Customs Enforcement appears at your door, families go into shock trying to figure out what to do. The immigrant is taken to a local office for processing. Hours, and sometimes days go by before you learn what is happening.

Steps need to be taken immediately to obtain release of the immigrant.First, contact an attorney. Attorneys know the procedures for contacting I.C.E., how to begin the bond process, paperwork to file, and  how to work through the court system.

When you receive a call from the immigrant ask these important questions:

1) How is their health. Do they need medication or prescriptions filled?

2) What is the name of the  facility where they are located?

3) What is their alien number (A# located on I.C.E. forms)?

4) What is the officers name and his phone number?

The bond process is complex. Some immigrants may qualify for release if: they are married to a U.S. Citizen, they have no criminal record, and they were not previously deported from the USA.

Others may NOT be eligible for release depending on a number of factors. It is VERY important that your attorney speak with the  immigrant as soon as possible. This can be done by a personal visit by the attorney at the detention center, or by having the immigrant call the attorney. Immigrants are allowed to make telephone calls to their family or their attorney.

It takes time  to set a bond hearing, so you must be patient with the legal process. This can be stressful and frustrating for families.  Once a hearing is scheduled, the Judge will determine if the immigrant qualifies for a bond.

Key factors to consider:
• Local family ties;
• Financial ability to post bond;
• Immoral Acts or subversive Activities;
• Membership in community organizations;
• Prior arrests, convictions and appearances.

The minimum bond is normally $1500, but could be much higher. It may be posted by a family member, the attorney, a bond company or friends. [If a bond company is used, they will post the bond for the immigrant.  Collateral in the form of equity in property or cash available on credit cards will be required.  A fee of 10-15% of the bond will be charged as the fee by the bond company.]

Payment must be made with a US Postal Money Orders only, and will be returned if/when the court process has been completed. Refund of monies usually takes several months.

Immigration Attorney Referral

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Taking Voluntary Departure in Immigration Court

If you are in removal proceedings in immigration court, but married to a US citizen, one form of relief is to request voluntary departure. That is, unless you have accumulated unlawful presence in the US. Be sure to speak to an immigration attorney before deciding to either simply leave the US without going to court, or taking voluntary departure in court. The laws concerning unlawful presence are complex and you want to make sure that you do not subject yourself to an automatic bar of either 3 or 10 years once you leave. The purpose of taking voluntary departure is to allow someone who does not qualify for adjustment of status in the US, to leave the US and then ask to return as a result of being married to a US citizen once the I-130 Petition for Relative Alien has been approved.

Voluntary Departure v. Self-Deportation

If you leave the US without going to court, you will self-deport and have to stay out of the US for several years before returning. However, by going to court and requesting voluntary departure, even though you entered the US illegally, you would not have unlawful presence if you filed an asylum application within one year of your entry. Unlawful presence may be tolled in other situations as well.

Voluntary departure is a discretionary form of relief, meaning the judge has the ability to grant or not grant voluntary departure even if technically, you are eligible. You will be asked to confirm that it is your decision to take voluntary departure, what arrests and convictions do you have anywhere in the world, whether or novoluntary deparuret you have been ordered removed before or taken voluntary departure before, and whether or not you have a passport and the ability to pay your own way out of the United States. You will also have to advise the court that you will leave on or before the date provided by the court. The most time you will be able to remain in the US after taking voluntary departure is 120 days.

Complying with the Voluntary Departure Order

Once you take voluntary departure, it is very important that you make an appointment to appear in person at the local US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office to present a copy of your passport and airline reservation. Form G- 146 will be provided to verify your departure from the US. This document should be taken to the US Consulate in your home country. By complying with the voluntary departure procedure, your case will avoid unnecessary problems.