​মার্কিন যুক্তরাষ্ট্রের প্রেক্ষাপটে রাজনৈতিক আশ্রয় আবেদন গ্রহণের নিয়ম ও পদ্ধতি: অ্যাডভোকেট সোয়েব রহমান U.S Asylum Law and Procedure 

​মার্কিন যুক্তরাষ্ট্রের প্রেক্ষাপটে রাজনৈতিক আশ্রয় আবেদন গ্রহণের নিয়ম ও পদ্ধতি:

মার্কিন যুক্তরাষ্ট্রের প্রেক্ষাপটে রাজনৈতিক আশ্রয়ের আবেদন কিংবা পলিটিক্যাল এসাইলাম সফল হওয়ার পূর্বশর্ত হচ্ছে অভিজ্ঞ এবং দক্ষ ইমিগ্রেশন এটর্নির মাধ্যমে আবেদন উপস্থাপন করা ও কেস ফাইল করা। প্রার্থীর আবেদন কতটা যৌক্তিক, তথ্য নির্ভর ও প্রমাণসম্বলিত এবং কি পদ্ধতিতে কেস ফাইল করা হয়েছে, তার উপরেই নির্ভর করে রাজনৈতিক আশ্রয় প্রার্থনার সফলতা বা ব্যর্থতা। অনেক ক্ষেত্রেই দেখা যায়, প্রার্থী রাজনৈতিক আশ্রয় প্রার্থনার ক্ষেত্রে সঠিক দিক নির্দেশনার অভাবে সিদ্ধান্তহীনতা কিংবা হতাশায় পর্যবসিত হন। তাই রাজনৈতিক আশ্রয় প্রার্থনার ক্ষেত্রে প্রার্থীর প্রথম এবং অবশ্য করণীয় হলো, সাধারণ মানুষের কাছ থেকে অযাচিত পরামর্শ না নিয়ে, একজন অভিজ্ঞ এবং দক্ষ ইমিগ্রেশন এটর্নির শরণাপন্ন হওয়া।

রাজনৈতিক শরণার্থী হিসেবে যুক্তরাষ্ট্রে আশ্রয় গ্রহণের জন্য প্রথমেই আশ্রয়প্রার্থীকে অভিজ্ঞ এটর্নি মারফত সঠিকভাবে আবেদন করতে হবে। আবেদনের সময় সবচেয়ে বেশি গুরুত্ব দিতে হবে রাজনৈতিক আশ্রয় চাওয়ার কারণ। যে ঘটনার কারণে রাজনৈতিক আশ্রয় চাওয়া হচ্ছে সেই ঘটনার বিবরণসহ তারিখ দিতে পারলে আশ্রয় প্রাপ্তির সম্ভাবনা বেশি থাকে। সম্ভব হলে ঘটনার কোন লিখিত সংবাদ প্রতিবেদন থাকলে তা আবেদনপত্রের সাথে যুক্ত করে দিতে হবে। এর বাইরে নিজের পরিচয়, পেশা ও রাজনৈতিক আদর্শ আবেদনের সাথে উল্লেখ করতে হবে। এছাড়া রাজনৈতিক আশ্রয় প্রার্থীকে নিজ দেশের রাজনৈতিক ও মানবাধিকার পরিস্থিতি সম্পর্কেও বর্ণনা দিতে হবে। সবকিছু আশ্রয় প্রার্থীর পক্ষে গেলে দেশটির আইন অনুসারে প্রার্থীকে রাজনৈতিক শরনার্থী হিসেবে আশ্রয় গ্রহণের আবেদন গ্রহণ করবে। 

যুক্তরাষ্ট্রে রাজনৈতিক আশ্রয়ের আবেদন গৃহীত হলে, এক বছরের মধ্যে আশ্রয় গ্রহণকারীকে গ্রীণ কার্ড দেওয়া হয়। সেখানে তিনি আর দশজনের মত কাজ করার সুযোগ পাবেন। কোন রাজনৈতিক আশ্রয়কারী যুক্তরাষ্ট্রে ১৪ বছর বাস করার পর দেশটিতে স্থায়ী নাগরিকত্ব লাভ করতে পারেন।

যুক্তরাষ্ট্রে রাজনৈতিক আশ্রয়ের আবেদন ব্যর্থ হওয়ার কিংবা বাতিল হওয়ার প্রধান কারণ হিসেবে কাজ করে মূলত এসাইলাম অফিসার কিংবা বিচারকের নেতিবাচক সিদ্ধান্ত। তবে বাতিল হবার পরেও পুনরায় নানা উপায়ে রাজনৈতিক আশ্রয়ের আবেদন করার পর্যাপ্ত সুযোগ থাকে এবং পুন: আবেদন প্রক্রিয়া সম্পন্ন করার জন্য যুক্তরাষ্ট্রে অবস্থান দীর্ঘায়িত করারও সুযোগ থাকে। পুরো বিষয়টি খানিকটা ব্যয়সাপেক্ষ বলে অনেকেই এই প্রক্রিয়ার শেষ ধাপ পর্যন্ত পৌঁছাতে পারেন না কিংবা লক্ষ্যে অটল থাকতে পারেন না।

সাধারণত প্রার্থী যদি স্ব-উদ্যোগে মার্কিন নাগরিকত্ব এবং ইমিগ্রেশন সার্ভিসেসের অফিসে সরাসরি ডাকযোগে তার লিখিত আবেদনপত্র পাঠান, সেক্ষেত্রেও ইমিগ্রেশন অফিসার কর্তৃক তার আবেদন গৃহিত হবে এবং তিনি ইন্টারভিউয়ের জন্য ডাক পাবেন। 

আবেদনকারীকে কয়েক সপ্তাহের মধ্যে লিখিত চিঠি মারফত ডেকে পাঠানো হবে এবং তার আবেদন সফল হয়েছে কি, হয়নি তা জানিয়ে দেওয়া হবে। যদি প্রার্থীর আবেদন সফল না হয় অথবা মঞ্জুর না হয়, তাহলে আবেদনের/মামলার পরবর্তী ধাপগুলো কি হতে পারে তা বিস্তারিত উল্লেখ করা হলো।


ইমিগ্রেশন জজ/বিচারক কর্তৃক আবেদন খারিজ হলে করণীয়: 

প্রার্থীর রাজনৈতিক আশ্রয় প্রার্থনার আবেদন যদি মঞ্জুর না হয়, তাহলে প্রকৃতপক্ষে, আপীল করার জন্য নতুন করে আর কিছু করবার অবকাশ থাকে না এবং এক্ষেত্রে প্রার্থী যদি মেয়াদত্তীর্ণ ভিসা বা অন্যান্য বৈধ অবস্থা ছাড়া মার্কিন যুক্তরাষ্ট্রে অবস্থান করেন তখন স্বয়ংক্রিয়ভাবে প্রার্থীর ফাইল ইমিগ্রেশন কোর্টে চলে যাবে। সেখানে একজন ইমিগ্রেশন জজ প্রার্থীর সাক্ষ্য শুনবেন, প্রমাণ পর্যালোচনা করবেন এবং শুনানি শেষে তার রায় প্রদান করবেন। যদি বিচারক কর্তৃক মৌখিকভাবে আবেদন খারিজ হয় তাহলে পরবর্তী ৩০টি কার্যদিবসের মধ্যে, ভার্জিনিয়াস্থ ‘বোর্ড অব ইমিগ্রেশন অ্যাপিলস’-এ (বিআইএ) ডাকযোগে আবেদন পাঠাতে হবে।
ইমিগ্রেশন জজ/বিচারকের ন্যায় ‘বোর্ড অব ইমিগ্রেশন অ্যাপিলস’ (বিআইএ) কেবল পুরো শুনানিই শুনবে না, বরং শুনানির ট্রান্সক্রিপ্ট পর্যালোচনা করবে, প্রার্থীর সকল ডক্যুমেন্টস এবং প্রমাণাদি পর্যালোচনা করবে, বিচারকের সিদ্ধান্তের নেতিবাচক দিক এবং ত্রুটি খতিয়ে দেখবে। এই পর্যায়ে প্রার্থীর স্ব-শরীরে উপস্থিত থাকার প্রয়োজন পড়বে না এবং প্রার্থী নতুন কোন তথ্য-প্রমাণ উপস্থাপনেরও সুযোগ পাবে না। এক্ষেত্রে একজন ইমিগ্রেশন এটর্নির সহযোগিতায় সংক্ষিপ্ত খসড়া উপস্থাপন করতে হবে এবং সঠিকভাবে ফর্ম পূরণ করে স্পষ্ট উল্লেখ করতে হবে যে, কেন ইমিগ্রেশন জজ/বিচারকের সিদ্ধান্ত আইনের ভিত্তিতে সঠিক ছিল না এবং প্রার্থীর কেস/আবেদনকে যথার্থ মূল্যায়ন করা হয়নি।

বোর্ড অব ইমিগ্রেশন অ্যাপিলম (বিআইএ) যদি মনে করে যে, ইমিগ্রেশন জজ/বিচারকের সিদ্ধান্ত ভুল ছিল, তাহলে রাজনৈতিক আশ্রয় প্রার্থনার আবেদন মঞ্জুর করবে অথবা পুনরায় শুনানির জন্য ইমিগ্রেশন জজের কাছে পাঠাবে। বিআইএ’র সিদ্ধান্তের জন্য অপেক্ষা করতে হবে নিদেনপক্ষে একবছর।


বোর্ড অব ইমিগ্রেশন অ্যাপিল (বিআইএ) কর্তৃক আবেদন খারিজ হলে করণীয়: 

বোর্ড অব ইমিগ্রেশন আপিল (বিআইএ) কর্তৃক রাজনৈতিক আশ্রয় প্রার্থনার আবেদন বাতিল হলে পরবর্তী পদক্ষেপ হিসেবে প্রার্থী যুক্তরাষ্ট্রে যে স্থানে বসবাস করে, সেই অঞ্চল সংলগ্ন, মার্কিন ফেডারেল কোর্টের অধীনস্থ সার্কিট কোর্টে তাকে আবেদন করতে হবে। এ পর্যায়েও প্রার্থীকে তার ইমিগ্রেশন এটর্নি মারফত সংক্ষিপ্ত ব্যাখ্যা উপস্থাপন করতে হবে যে, কেন প্রার্থীর রাজনৈতিক আশ্রয় প্রদানের ক্ষেত্রে বিআইএ-এর সিদ্ধান্ত সঠিক ছিল না কিংবা তাদের সিদ্ধান্তে যথেষ্ট বিচক্ষণতার অভাব ছিল।
সার্কিট কোর্ট প্রার্থীর কেসটি মৌখিক/বাচিক যুক্তি-তর্ক উপস্থাপনের জন্য বিবেচনা করলে, প্রার্থীর এটর্নিকে অবশ্যই সে সময় কোর্টে বিচারক প্যানেলের সামনে উপস্থিত থাকতে হবে। এই পর্যায়েও প্রার্থীকে নতুন করে তার স্বাক্ষ্য প্রমাণাদি প্রমাণ করবার কোন প্রয়োজন পড়বে না এবং নতুন করে কোন স্বাক্ষ্য প্রমাণ উপস্থাপনেরও সুযোগ থাকবে না। সাধারণত সার্কিট কোর্টের রায় এর জন্য তিন থেকে চার বছর অপেক্ষা করতে হয় এবং তা নির্ভর করে কোন এলাকার সার্কিট কোর্টে আপিল করা হয়েছে তার উপর। যুক্তরাষ্ট্রের বিভিন্ন এলাকা ভেদে রায়ের জন্য অপেক্ষমান সময়সীমায় পার্থক্য হতে পারে। এক্ষেত্রে সার্কিট কোর্ট রাজনৈতিক প্রার্থনার আবেদন তথা এসাইলাম মঞ্জুর করবে নয়তো তা ইমিগ্রেশন জজ/বিচারকের কাছে ফেরত পাঠাবে।

সার্কিট কোর্ট কর্তৃক আবেদন খারিজ হলে করণীয়:
সার্কিট কোর্টেও আবেদন খারিজ হয়ে গেলে, সবশেষে যুক্তরাষ্ট্রের সুপ্রিম কোর্টে আবেদনের সুযোগ বহাল থাকে। এই পর্যায়ে প্রার্থীর এটর্নি সুপ্রিম কোর্টে রিট পিটিশন করবেন। যদিও সুপ্রিম কোর্ট মামলাটি নেবে কি-না, তা নিশ্চিত করে বলা সম্ভব নয়। সাধারণত সুপ্রিম কোর্ট প্রতি বছর খুব অল্পসংখ্যক মামলাই আমলে নেয়।

লেখক : আইনজীবী, জেলা ও দায়রা জজ আদালত, কুমিল্লা।



Asylum

To be granted asylum, a person must demonstrate that he or she is a “refugee,” that he or she is not barred from asylum for any of the reasons listed in our immigration laws, and that the decision-maker should grant asylum as a matter of discretion. 

A “refugee” is any person who is outside his or her country of nationality (or, if stateless, outside the country of last habitual residence) and is unable or unwilling to return to that country because of persecution or well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.

This definition is based on international law, specifically the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.  The U.S. is not a signatory to this Convention, but did sign on to its 1967 Protocol, which incorporates the Convention by reference.  The Refugee Convention requires state parties to protect people living within their borders and prohibits them from sending people to other countries where they would be harmed based on their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.  With the Refugee Act of 1980, the U.S. brought the refugee definition into our domestic law.  The refugee definition is found at section 101(a)(42) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). 

A person who meets the refugee definition may be granted asylum in the United States if he or she is not barred from asylum for any of the reasons listed in section 208 of that Act and if the adjudicator decides that he or she should be granted asylum as a matter of discretion.

The bars to asylum include the one-year filing deadline, which states that a person who needs asylum should file the application within one year of the last arrival in the United States.  Otherwise, the asylum-seeker must show that he or she qualifies for an exception to the filing deadline and that he or she filed within a reasonable time given that exception.  Human Rights First advocates for the elimination of the filing deadline from our asylum law. 

The bars to asylum also include the so-called “material support bar.”  Human Rights First advocates for a more reasonable version of this bar to asylum. 

Some people who need asylum will have their cases decided at the Asylum Office and others will have their cases decided at the Immigration Court.  The standard for asylum is the same in both places, and Human Rights First works on cases at all levels of the system.

People apply for asylum with Form I-589.  That application for asylum can also include a request for two related alternative forms of relief, which offer fewer benefits: withholding of removal under section 241(b)(3) of the INA and protection under the UN Convention Against Torture.

Withholding of Removal

To be granted withholding of removal under section 241(b)(3) of the INA, a person must demonstrate that if returned to the country of origin he or she is more likely than not to be persecuted on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.  Some of the bars to asylum, including the one-year filing deadline, do not apply to claims for withholding of removal.  There is no discretionary element.  This means that if a person is more likely than not to be harmed for one of the reasons listed above, he or she must be granted withholding of removal. 

U.N. Convention Against Torture

To be granted withholding of removal under the U.N. Convention Against Torture, a person must demonstrate that if returned to the country of origin he or she is more likely than not to be tortured.  There is no discretionary element.  Most of the bars to asylum do not apply to requests for protection under the U.N. Convention Against Torture.  The government of the United States has promised that it will not send anyone back to a country where he or she is likely to be tortured and so an immigration judge will consider eligibility for protection under the Torture Convention even if the asylum-seeker does not specifically request it.

Procedural Steps for Asylum

The asylum system has two parts: the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (which includes the Asylum Office) and the U.S. Department of Justice (which includes the Immigration Courts).  Cases that are not granted at either of those levels might go to the Board of Immigration Appeals, the U.S. Courts of Appeal, or even to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Human Rights First works with asylum-seekers at all levels of the system.  A person who meets the definition of a refugee can apply for asylum in various ways, depending on that person’s immigration status at the time they decide to apply.

Asylum Office – When a person has entered the United States, whether or not they were inspected at the border, and our government is not taking any active steps to remove them from the U.S., they can make what is known as an “affirmative” application for asylum.  This means that the person will file an I-589 application by mail with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  Later they will be interviewed by an officer at the local Asylum Office.  If the officer grants the application, then the person has asylum.  He or she can then petition for their spouse and children to join them in the United States.  They are also then on the path toward a green card and eventual U.S. citizenship.  If the officer denies the asylum application, and the person has no other immigration status, then they are “referred” to the Immigration Court, where a judge will consider the asylum case. 

Immigration Court – When a person has been placed in Immigration Court proceedings before they apply for asylum, the I-589 application should be filed directly with the immigration judge.  This is known as a “defensive” application for asylum because the person is requesting asylum as a defense to the government’s charge that they should be removed from the United States.  Whether the case starts in the Asylum Office or in the Immigration Court, the judge considers the case from the beginning.  If the immigration judge grants the application, then the person has asylum.  He or she is then eligible for the same family-reunification and other benefits that a person would be eligible for if granted at the Asylum Office level.  If the immigration judge grants only withholding of removal or protection under the U.N. Convention Against Torture, then the person may not petition for relatives but will be permitted to remain in the U.S. and to work to support himself or herself.

Asylum applications filed by unaccompanied children (those who are under age 18) are heard at the Asylum Office, even if the child is otherwise in proceedings in the Immigration Court.  This is the result of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) that went into effect March 23, 2009 and it applies to asylum applications filed on or after that date. 

Cases which are denied in the Immigration Court may be appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals.  If the case is not granted at that level, the asylum-seeker may file a petition for review which brings it to the U.S. Court of Appeals in the circuit where the immigration judge denied the case.  When asylum cases of genuine refugees are granted at the lower levels, the system works most effectively.  Judges at the appellate courts are then available to spend their time on the many other types of cases that they have to decide.  Pro bono representation of asylum-seekers can help to ensure that cases are well-prepared and properly decided in the first instance.

How to Seek Asylum While in Immigration Detention

The process for seeking asylum is the same for people who are in the Immigration Court whether or not they are detained.  The I-589 (asylum application) will be filed with the immigration judge and there will be an opportunity to testify and present evidence in support of the asylum case.  However, it is much more difficult to prepare an asylum case from inside an immigration detention center because of limited access to supporting witnesses and documentation, and because detained cases move more quickly.  Pro bono legal assistance can make a tremendous difference in these cases.  In addition to helping with the asylum case, a pro bono lawyer can help a detained asylum-seeker to request release from detention on bond or parole. 

Biometrics

For cases at the Asylum Office level, the filing of the I-589 will prompt the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to send a biometrics appointment notice to the asylum-seeker, who will then go to have his or her fingerprints and photograph taken.  This will make it possible for DHS to run a background check.  The asylum-seeker will be fingerprinted again on the morning of the interview at the Asylum Office.

For cases at the Immigration Court level, the asylum-seeker must send a copy of the first three pages of the completed I-589 (asylum application) with a copy of the instruction sheet to the Nebraska Service Center.  This will prompt DHS to send a biometrics appointment notice to the asylum-seeker, who will then go to have his or her fingerprints and photograph taken.  These steps must be completed before the immigration judge can grant asylum.  See 70 FR 19, 4743-4754.  Once the biometrics have been processed, they remain valid for 15 months.  Asylum-seekers in proceedings with merits hearings that are scheduled more than 15 months from the biometrics appointment may need to ask DHS to run the fingerprints through their system again to make sure that the biometrics are up-to-date at the time of the merits hearing.  This is the responsibility of the asylum-seeker and his or her attorney.  Please contact someone in the Refugee Representation program at Human Rights First if you need further guidance on how to ensure that the biometrics are updated before the merits hearing in your case or in the case of an asylum-seeker who you represent. 

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)

Children who are in the United States without the support and care of their parents may be eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS).  This provides them with a green card, authorization to work legally in the U.S., eligibility for financial aid that makes it possible to seek a college education, and it puts them on a path toward eventual U.S. citizenship.  According to 8 CFR § 204.11(c) and INA § 101(a)(27)(J), a child is eligible for SIJS if he or she:

Is under twenty-one years of age;Is unmarried;Has been declared dependent upon a juvenile court located in the United States… while the alien was in the United States and under the jurisdiction of the court;Has been deemed eligible by the juvenile court for long-term foster care;Continues to be dependent upon the juvenile court and eligible for long-term foster care…; andHas been the subject of judicial proceedings or administrative proceedings authorized or recognized by the juvenile court in which it has been determined that it would not be in the alien’s best interest to be returned to the country of nationality or last habitual residence of the beneficiary or his or her parent or parents.
These cases are complicated and many children who are eligible will never be granted because they do not know how to navigate the system alone.  Pro bonocounsel makes a tremendous difference in SIJS cases, as in asylum cases, making it possible for a vulnerable person who cannot safely return to his or her country of origin to find safety in the United States.

– The first step in a SIJS case is to go to the Family Court or Surrogate’s Court to request an “order of special findings.”  This is a decision by the family court judge that the child meets the definition above and that it is not in the child’s best interest to return to his or her home country.  Proceedings in the Family Court or Surrogate’s Court may involve multiple hearings, fingerprinting and background checks on adults in the household, the service of papers on biological parents who may be living outside the country, testimony from the child or others, and a visit by someone sent by the judge to inspect the home and ensure that it’s a safe place for the child to live.

– The second step in a SIJS case is to request that the immigration authorities grant a green card based on those “special findings.”  For children who are in Immigration Court proceedings, this requires that an I-360 petition be filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the immigration judge may or may not retain jurisdiction over the application that is filed last, which is the I-485 application for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence.  For children who are not in Immigration Court proceedings when the order of “special findings” is issued, the rest of the steps in the case all happen with USCIS.  The immigration case will require fingerprinting and background checks.  It may also require the child to be interviewed by an officer from USCIS and it may require the child to testify in Immigration Court.

When a SIJS case is granted, the child becomes a lawful permanent resident and will receive a “green card.”  This will make him eligible for work authorization and will put him on a path toward eventual U.S. citizenship.

Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

The U.S. government may designate a foreign country for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) due to conditions in that country which temporarily prevent its citizens from returning safely, or when the country is unable to handle the return of its citizens.  A person from a TPS-designated country who is in the United States may apply for this temporary form of protection by filing a Form I-821.  Countries may be designated for TPS due to various short-term conditions, including ongoing armed conflict (civil war), environmental disaster (such as earthquake or hurricane), or an epidemic.  A person who is granted TPS may not be detained or removed from the United States, can work legally in this country, and may be granted a travel document to leave the U.S. and return.  TPS is a temporary benefit and does not lead to lawful permanent residence or any kind of permanent immigration status.  However, a person who is granted TPS may also apply for asylum or any other form of more lasting immigration status if eligible for those forms of relief.  The list of TPS-designated countries is available on this part of the USCIS website. 

What is TPS

The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a foreign country for TPS due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately.  USCIS may grant TPS to eligible nationals of certain countries (or parts of countries), who are already in the United States.  Eligible individuals without nationality who last resided in the designated country may also be granted TPS.

The Secretary may designate a country for TPS due to the following temporary conditions in the country:

– Ongoing armed conflict (such as civil war)An environmental disaster (such as earthquake or hurricane), or an epidemicOther extraordinary and temporary conditions

– During a designated period, individuals who are TPS beneficiaries or who are found preliminarily eligible for TPS upon initial review of their cases (prima facie eligible):

– Are not removable from the United StatesCan obtain an employment authorization document (EAD)May be granted travel authorization

– Once granted TPS, an individual also cannot be detained by DHS on the basis of his or her immigration status in the United States.

– TPS is a temporary benefit that does not lead to lawful permanent resident status or give any other immigration status. However, registration for TPS does not prevent you from:

– Applying for nonimmigrant statusFiling for adjustment of status based on an immigrant petition Applying for any other immigration benefit or protection for which you may be eligible

PLEASE NOTE: To be granted any other immigration benefit you must still meet all the eligibility requirements for that particular benefit.  An application for TPS does not affect an application for asylum or any other immigration benefit and vice versa. Denial of an application for asylum or any other immigration benefit does not affect your ability to register for TPS, although the grounds of denial of that application may also lead to denial of TPS.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for TPS, you must:

Be a national of a country designated for TPS, or a person without nationality who last habitually resided in the designated country;File during the open initial registration or re-registration period, or you meet the requirements for late initial filing during any extension of your country’s TPS designation (Late initial filers see ‘Filing Late’ section below);Have been continuously physically present (CPP) in the United States since the effective date of the most recent designation date of your country; andHave been continuously residing (CR) in the United States since the date specified for your country. (See your country’s TPS Web page to the left). The law allows an exception to the continuous physical presence and continuous residence requirements for brief, casual and innocent departures from the United States. When you apply or re-register for TPS, you must inform USCIS of all absences from the United States since the CPP and CR dates. USCIS will determine whether the exception applies in your case.

You may NOT be eligible for TPS or to maintain your existing TPS if you:

Have been convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States;Are found inadmissible as an immigrant under applicable grounds in INA section 212(a), including non-waivable criminal and security-related grounds;Are subject to any of the mandatory bars to asylum. These include, but are not limited to, participating in the persecution of another individual or engaging in or inciting terrorist activity;Fail to meet the continuous physical presence and continuous residence in the United States requirements;Fail to meet initial or late initial TPS registration requirements; orIf granted TPS, you fail to re-register for TPS, as required, without good cause.

What to File

You must include the necessary forms, evidence, fees or fee waiver when filing your TPS application. Below is information about what you must include in your TPS package. Please also check your country’s specific TPS page to the left to see if there are any special filing instructions specific to your TPS designated country.

Forms

To register or re-register for TPS you must file:

Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected StatusForm I-765, Application for Employment Authorization

PLEASE NOTE: Both I-821 and I-765 forms must be filed even if you do not want an Employment Authorization Document.

If you are aware when you apply that a relevant ground of inadmissibility applies to you and you need a waiver to obtain TPS, please include a Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility, and fee or fee waiver request, with your TPS application package. However, you do not need to file a new Form I-601 for an incident that USCIS has already waived with a prior TPS application. USCIS may grant a waiver of certain inadmissibility grounds for humanitarian purposes, to assure family unity, or when it is in the public interest.

These forms are free and available on the forms section of the USCIS website at: www.uscis.gov/forms or by calling the toll-free USCIS Forms Hotline at 1-800-870-3676.  Please look below at the fee chart to see what fees you must pay (a properly documented fee waiver request may be submitted.  If you do not pay the proper fees (or submit a proper fee waiver request), your application will be rejected.

Evidence

When filing an initial TPS application, you must submit:

Identity and Nationality Evidence: to demonstrate your identity and that you are a national of a country designated for TPS (or that you have no nationality and you last habitually resided in a country designated for TPS)Date of Entry Evidence: to demonstrate when you entered the United StatesContinuously Residing (CR) Evidence: to demonstrate that you have been in the United States since the CR date specified for your country (See your country’s TPS Web page to the left)

Any document that is not in English must be accompanied by a complete English translation. The translator must certify that:

He or she is competent both in English and the foreign language used in the original document; andthe translation is true and correct to the best of his or her ability, knowledge and belief.

Identity and Nationality Evidence
We encourage you to submit primary evidence, if available. If USCIS does not find that the documents you submit with your application are sufficient, we will send you a request for additional evidence. If you cannot submit primary evidence of your identity and nationality, you may submit the secondary evidence listed below with your application.

The following table explains the different types of evidence you can provide it

Primary Evidence

A copy of your passport
A copy of your birth certificate, accompanied by photo identification
Any national identity document bearing your photograph or fingerprint (or both) issued by your country, including such documents issued by your country’s Embassy or Consulate in the United States. Such as a national ID card or naturalization certificate

No Primary Evidence

If you do not have any of the primary evidence listed above, you must submit an affidavit with:

Proof of your unsuccessful efforts to obtain such documents; and

An explanation why the consular process for your country was unavailable to you, and affirming that you are a national of your country.

USCIS will interview you regarding your identity and nationality, and you may also submit additional evidence of your nationality and identity then if available.

Secondary Evidence

Nationality documentation, such as a naturalization certificate, even if it does not have your photograph and fingerprint

Your baptismal certificate if it indicates your nationality or a parent’s nationality

Copies of your school or medical records if they have information supporting your claim that you are a national from a country designated for TPS

Copies of other immigration documents showing your nationality and identity

Affidavits from friends or family members who have close personal knowledge of the date and place of your birth and your parents’ nationality.The person making the affidavit should include information about how he or she knows you or is related to you, and how he or she knows the details of the date and place of your birth and the nationality of your parents.The nationality of your parents is of importance if you are from a country where nationality is derived from a parent.

You may also provide any other document or information that you believe helps show your nationality.

PLEASE NOTE: Birth in a TPS designated country does not always mean you are a national from that country. Please see your TPS designated country’s nationality laws for further information.

Date of Entry Evidence

A copy of your passportI-94 Arrival/Departure RecordCopies of documents specified in the ‘Continuous Residing Evidence’ section below

Continuously Residing (CR) Evidence

Employment RecordsRent receipts, utility bills, receipts or letters from companiesSchool records from the schools that you or your children have attended in the U.S.Hospital or medial records concerning treatment or hospitalization of you or your childrenAttestations by church, union or other organization officials who know you and where you have been residing

Please see the I-821 Form Instructions for more details on acceptable evidence.

When and Where to File

For information about when and where you must file your TPS application, please see the country specific pages to the left.

Application Process

Step 1: File Your Petition
Once you have prepared your TPS package with the forms, evidence and filing fees (or request for a fee waiver), you will need to send it to the address indicated on your TPS country page to the left. Please make sure you sign your application and include the correct fee amount (or fee waiver request). These are the two of the most common mistakes USCIS receives on TPS applications.  Please look above at the fee chart to see what fees you must pay (a properly documented fee waiver request may be submitted).  If you do not pay the proper fees (or submit a proper fee waiver request), your application will be rejected.

Step 2: USCIS Receives Your Application
When USCIS receives your application, we will review it for completeness and for the proper fees or a properly documented fee waiver request. If your case meets the basic acceptance criteria, your application will be entered into our system and we will send you a receipt notice. At the top of this notice you will find a receipt number which can be used to check the status of your caseonline.

If you do not receive your receipt notice within three weeks of filing, you can call Customer Service at 1-800-375-5283 to request assistance. If your application is rejected at the initial review stage, you may re-file within the registration period after correcting the problems described in the USCIS notification.

If your application was rejected because we determined you were not eligible for a fee waiver, you may submit a new TPS package. Go to the ‘Fee Waiver’ section above for more information.

Step 3: USCIS Contacts You
If USCIS needs to collect your photograph, signature, and/or fingerprints (these are called biometrics), USCIS will send you an appointment notice to have your biometrics captured at an Application Support Center (ASC). Every TPS applicant over 14 years old must have their biometrics collected. Biometrics are required for identity verification, background checks and the production of an EAD, if one has been requested.

In certain situations, such as when it’s impossible to take a fingerprint, USCIS can waive the collection of biometrics. In some cases, we may be able to reuse the biometrics previously collected in association with your previous TPS application.  Even if you do not need to attend an ASC appointment, you still need to pay the biometrics fee (if required) to help cover costs associated with reusing your biometrics.

Step 4: Go to the ASC
When you report to an ASC, you must bring:

Evidence of nationality and identity with a photograph of you, such as a passportYour receipt noticeYour ASC appointment noticeYour current EAD, if you already have one

If you cannot make your scheduled appointment, you may reschedule. To reschedule an ASC appointment, make a copy of your appointment notice to retain for your records, then mail the original notice with your rescheduling request to the ASC address listed on the notice. You should submit your request for rescheduling as soon as you know you have an unavoidable conflict on your scheduled ASC date. A new appointment notice will be sent to you by mail. Please note that rescheduling a biometrics appointment may cause the adjudication of your application to be delayed.

If you need an accommodation due to a disability that affects your ability to go to the ASC, please go to the Requesting Accommodations for Disabilities webpage for more information.

WARNING: If you fail to appear for your ASC appointment without rescheduling, or if you repeatedly miss scheduled ASC appointments, your TPS application could be denied for abandonment.

If there is an emergency need for you to travel abroad for humanitarian reasons, you may request expedited processing on your advance parole application (Form I-131) after you have appeared at an ASC for your biometrics appointment. Please see the travel section below for more information.

Step 5: USCIS Determines Work Eligibility
If you are not seeking an employment authorization document (EAD), skip to Step 6.

If you are …Applying for TPS for the first time and seeking an EAD Then USCIS will review your case to determine whether you are eligible to work before we make a final decision on your TPS application. If you are found to be eligible upon initial review of your TPS application (prima facie eligible) you will receive an EAD.

Note:  If your application is denied and you choose to appeal to the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) or request review of your application by an immigration judge, your EAD will be extended while you are waiting for a decision.  If your EAD expires, to request an extension of your EAD, you must file a Form I-765 along with evidence of your appeal to the AAO or that you have requested an immigration judge to review your TPS application.

If you are …Re-Registering for TPS and seeking an EAD You will receive your new EAD when your entire TPS package is adjudicated.

USCIS makes every effort to avoid backlogs at this step, but we urge you to remember that USCIS may experience a higher volume of applications in the first few months of a registration period.

Step 6: USCIS Adjudicates the Application
During this phase, we may ask you for additional documents to establish your eligibility for TPS. If you receive a request for evidence (RFE) or a notice of intent to deny, it is extremely important that you respond immediately to avoid processing delays and possible denial for failure to timely respond. Upon completion of your case, USCIS will notify you if your request for TPS is granted or denied. If one of the waivable grounds of inadmissibility applies to you, USCIS will give you an opportunity to submit a Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility if you did not include this with your TPS package. Please submit this form within the time frame specified in the USCIS notice, or your case will be denied.

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