On November 15, United States Citizenship Immigration Services reached out to the Filipino immigrant community in an effort to offer them special concessions if they were impacted by Typhoon Haiyan. Currently, USCIS proposes the following immigration relief measures to be available for Filipinos:
- Extension or change of nonimmigrant status for those who are currently in the United States
- Extension of grants of parole
- Extension of advance parole and expedited processing of advance parole requests;
- Expedited adjudication and approvals for requests for off campus employment authorization (F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship)
- Expedited processing of immigrant petitions for immediate relatives and lawful permanent residents
- Expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications
- Assistance to LPRs stranded overseas without travel documents
It is anticipated that there may be a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program also established to help victims of this terrible natural disaster as in other countries such as Haiti, Syria and El Salvador. Typhoon Haiyan which struck on November 8, 2013 is considered one of the most powerful storms ever. The winds reached 147 mph and waves climbed as high as 45 feet. So far there are nearly 7 million people believed to be affected by the storm. While relief efforts are underway, there may be TPS available to those who qualify, if the Department of Homeland Security approves a TPS program for this purpose.
TPS is an immigration program where DHS designates a country or portions of a country where harmful conditions exist, such as armed conflict or an environmental disaster. Such circumstances temporarily prevent that country’s nationals from safe return. If granted, the United States offers a temporary humanitarian form of relief from deportation for those qualifying individuals. TPS designations initially last for a period of 6 – 18 months and can be extended if conditions continue to exist.
TPS offers the following benefits:
- Non removability from the United States
- Work authorization
- Possible travel authorization
Although TPS has not yet been authorized by the United Stated government, it is anticipated that a program will be established in the near future to help those affected by this terrible natural disaster.