[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 61 (Thursday, March 29, 2012)]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-7498]
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
[CIS No. 2522-12; DHS Docket No. USCIS 2012-0007]
Designation of Syrian Arab Republic for Temporary Protected
AGENCY: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, DHS.
SUMMARY: Through this notice, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
announces that the Secretary of Homeland Security (Secretary) has
designated the Syrian Arab Republic (Syria) for Temporary Protected
Status (TPS) for a period of 18 months, effective March 29, 2012
through September 30, 2013. Under section 244(b)(1) of the Immigration
and Nationality Act (Act), 8 U.S.C. 1254a(b)(1), the Secretary is
authorized to grant TPS to eligible nationals of designated foreign
states or parts of such states (or to eligible aliens having no
nationality who last habitually resided in such states) upon finding
that such states are experiencing an ongoing armed conflict, an
environmental disaster, or extraordinary and temporary conditions that
prevent nationals from returning in safety.
This designation allows eligible Syrian nationals (and aliens
having no nationality who last habitually resided in Syria) who have
both continuously resided in and been continuously physically present
in the United States since March 29, 2012 to be granted TPS. This
notice also describes the other eligibility criteria applicants must
Individuals who believe they may qualify for TPS under this
designation may apply within the 180-day registration period that
begins on March 29, 2012. They may also apply for Employment
Authorization Documents (EADs) and for travel authorization. In this
notice, DHS also sets forth the procedures for nationals of Syria (or
aliens having no nationality who last habitually resided in Syria) to
apply for TPS and EADs with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
DATES: This designation of Syria for TPS is effective on March 29, 2012
and will remain in effect through September 30, 2013. The 180-day
registration period for eligible individuals to submit TPS applications
begins March 29, 2012, and will remain in effect through September 30,
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
For further information on TPS, including guidance on the
application process and additional information on eligibility, please
visit the USCIS TPS Web page at http://www.uscis.gov/tps. You can find
specific information about this designation of Syria for TPS by
selecting ``TPS Designated Country--Syria'' from the menu on the left
of the TPS Web page.
You can also contact the TPS Operations Program Manager at
Status and Family Branch, Service Center Operations Directorate, U.S.
Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security,
20 Massachusetts Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20529-2060; or by phone at
(202) 272-1533 (this is not a toll-free number). Note: The phone number
provided here is solely for questions regarding this TPS notice. It is
not for individual case status inquiries.
Applicants seeking information about the status of their
individual cases can check Case Status Online available at the USCIS
Web site at http://www.uscis.gov, or call the USCIS National Customer
Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833).
Further information will also be available at local USCIS
offices upon publication of this notice.
Abbreviations and Terms Used in This Document
Act--Immigration and Nationality Act
BIA--Board of Immigration Appeals
COI--Independent International Commission of Inquiry, established
pursuant to United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council resolution S-
17/1 to investigate all alleged violations of international human
rights law since March 2011 in the Syrian Arab Republic
COI Report--``Report of the Independent International Commission of
Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic,'' dated 22 February 2012, UN
DHS--U.S. Department of Homeland Security
DOJ--U.S. Department of Justice
DOS--U.S. Department of State
EAD--Employment Authorization Document
FSA--Free Syrian Army
HRC--United Nations Human Rights Council
OSC--U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Special Counsel for
Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices
SARG--Syrian Arab Republic Government
SAVE--Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements
Secretary--Secretary of Homeland Security
Syria--Syrian Arab Republic
TPS--Temporary Protected Status
UNHCR--Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
USCIS--U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
What is Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?
TPS is an immigration status granted to eligible nationals
of a country designated for TPS under the Act (or to persons without
nationality who last habitually resided in the designated country).
During the TPS designation period, TPS beneficiaries are
eligible to remain in the United States and obtain an EAD following a
request and payment of the EAD fee, if required, so long as they
continue to meet the requirements of TPS.
TPS beneficiaries may also be granted travel authorization
as a matter of discretion.
The granting of TPS does not lead to permanent resident
When the Secretary terminates a country's TPS designation,
beneficiaries return to the same immigration status they maintained
before TPS (unless that status has since expired or been terminated) or
to any other lawfully obtained immigration status they received while
registered for TPS.
TPS applicants are subject to thorough background and
security checks. Applicants who have committed a felony or two
misdemeanors in the United States and applicants who are subject to
certain other mandatory bars, including those who pose a threat to U.S.
national security, are not eligible.
What authority does the Secretary have to designate Syria for TPS?
Section 244(b)(1) of the Act, 8 U.S.C. 1254a(b)(1), authorizes the
Secretary, after consultation with appropriate Government agencies, to
designate a foreign state (or part thereof) for TPS.\1\ The Secretary
can designate a foreign state for TPS based on one of three
circumstances. One circumstance is if ``there exist extraordinary and
temporary conditions in the foreign state that prevent aliens who are
nationals of the state from returning to the state in safety, unless
the [Secretary] finds that permitting the aliens to remain temporarily
in the United States is contrary to the national interest of the United
States.'' Section 244(b)(1)(C) of the Act, 8 U.S.C. 1254a(b)(1)(C).
\1\ As of March 1, 2003, in accordance with section 1517 of
title XV of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (HSA), Public Law 107-
296, 116 Stat. 2135, any reference to the Attorney General in a
provision of the Act describing functions transferred from the
Department of Justice to the DHS ``shall be deemed to refer to the
Secretary'' of Homeland Security. See 6 U.S.C. 557 (codifying HSA,
tit. XV, sec. 1517).
Following the designation of a foreign state for TPS, the Secretary
may then grant TPS to eligible nationals of that foreign state (or
aliens having no nationality who last habitually resided in that
state). See section 244(a)(1)(A) of the Act, 8 U.S.C. 1254a(a)(1)(A).
Applicants must demonstrate that they satisfy all eligibility criteria,
including that they have been ``continually physically present'' in the
United States since the effective date of the designation, which is
either the date of the Federal Register notice announcing the
designation or such later date as the Secretary may determine, and that
they have ``continuously resided'' in the United States since such date
as the Secretary may designate. See sections 244(a)(1)(A), (b)(2)(A),
and (c)(1)(A)(i-ii) of the Act; 8 U.S.C. 1254a(a)(1)(A), (b)(2)(A),
Why is the Secretary designating Syria for TPS through September 30,
The Secretary has determined, after consultation with the
Department of State (DOS) and other appropriate Government agencies,
that there exist extraordinary and temporary conditions in Syria that
prevent Syrian nationals from returning in safety, and that permitting
such aliens to remain temporarily in the United States would not be
contrary to the national interest of the United States.
Protest crowds began to gather in Damascus and Dar'a by mid to late
March 2011, when citizens seeking greater political freedom rose up
against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad. In response, President
al-Assad used the military to suppress the movement, and the Syrian
Arab Republic Government (SARG) launched a brutal crackdown, violently
repressing and killing thousands of its own civilians. The SARG
continues to use excessive force against civilians, arbitrary
executions, killing and persecution of protestors and members of the
media, arbitrary detention, disappearances, torture, and ill-treatment
in an effort to retain control of the country.
The Independent International Commission of Inquiry (COI), in its
second report to the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) dated
February 22, 2012 (A/HRC/19/69), reports that the SARG's initial
violent suppression of dissent was followed by military defections and
the formation of anti-government armed groups. The main armed
opposition group is the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Other anti-government
armed groups include the Higher Military Council and Al Faroukh
Battalion, both of which are engaged in combat with the Syrian security
forces in Homs. According to the COI report, while anti-government
groups have also committed abuses, their actions are not comparable in
scale or organization to those carried out by the Syrian state.
The COI report states that army snipers and Shabbiha (mercenaries
hired by the SARG) have terrorized the population, targeting and
killing small children, women, and other unarmed civilians. Military
defectors report that soldiers continue to receive ``shoot to kill''
orders. Individual officers in the Syrian military have also shot
unarmed protestors, including children, medical doctors, ambulance
drivers, and mourners at funerals in Da'ra, Rif Dimashq, and
Observers generally agree that the conflict has become increasingly
violent and militarized. As of February 2012, the UN Under-Secretary-
General for Political Affairs indicated that approximately 7,500
Syrians have been killed since the violence began, and new casualties
are reported daily. The COI report pointed out that ``casualties rose
steeply as the violence intensified'' in recent months. In fact, the
UN's February 2012 death toll estimate of 7,500 exceeds its January
2012 estimate by 2,100 deaths. As of February 2012, public UN estimates
indicated that between 100,000 and 200,000 Syrians are internally
displaced, and as many as 500,000 citizens may be trapped in affected
areas within Syria. According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner
for Refugees (UNHCR), approximately 35,000 Syrians have sought shelter
in the neighboring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan.
The deteriorating security situation in Syria compelled the United
States to suspend Embassy operations on February 6, 2012, and order the
departure of all U.S. direct-hire personnel from the country. Several
other diplomatic missions have also
suspended operations due to security concerns. On April 25, 2011, DOS
advised all United States citizens to avoid travel to Syria and urged
United States citizens in Syria to depart immediately. DOS has
reiterated the travel warning several times, most recently on March 6,
The international community has responded to the crisis in Syria by
imposing economic sanctions. The regime's economic mismanagement and
economic sanctions have negatively affected the whole of the Syrian
economy. According to the COI report, the prices of basic food items
have increased by as much as 37 percent, and the unemployment rate is
in the range of 22 to 30 percent. The economy is estimated to have
shrunk by 2 to 4 percent in 2011, and a higher drop is expected in
2012. Tourism, which accounted for 6 to 9 percent of Syria's gross
domestic product, has collapsed.
Thousands of Syrians have been uprooted from their communities and
sought shelter in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. Many of those that
remain in the country are trapped in danger zones and are experiencing
the effects of the economic sanctions. As of June 2011, UNHCR reports
an estimated 10,000 Syrians are displaced in Turkey. Approximately
15,000 Syrians are displaced in Lebanon. Although in January 2012
Jordan reported that it formally hosts 2,500 to 3,000 Syrians displaced
by violence, UNHCR estimates approximately 10,000 displaced Syrians are
in Jordan. In February 2012, Jordan government sources stated that
approximately 73,000 Syrians have entered Jordan through border
Journalists and bloggers have been subject to harm, including
arrest, prolonged detention, and death. Reports also indicate that
medical doctors providing treatment to wounded members of the
opposition have been arrested. The campaign group Avaaz, which has been
monitoring attacks on medical workers, recorded more than 250 arrests
between March and October 2011. This has led to the establishment of
clandestine makeshift clinics in mosques and basements of homes.
According to the UN General Assembly's Conflict-related sexual
violence: report of the Secretary-General, published in January 2012,
reports of conflict-related sexual violence from both Syrian security
forces and anti-government armed groups also have surfaced.
International humanitarian organizations face significant obstacles
to gaining access to Syrian cities such as Homs and Hama that are
crippled by the brutality and violence. As a result, they cannot assure
humanitarian assistance to citizens in need of emergency relief,
including medical care, food, and other supplies.
Given extraordinary and temporary conditions on the ground in
Syria, Syrian nationals in the United States would face serious danger
and threats were they to return to Syria.
Based upon this review, and after consultation with appropriate
Government agencies, the Secretary finds that:
Syrian nationals cannot return to Syria in safety due to
extraordinary and temporary conditions. See section 244(b)(1)(C) of the
Act, 8 U.S.C. 1254a(b)(1)(C);
It is not contrary to the national interest of the United
States to permit Syrian nationals (and persons without nationality who
last habitually resided in Syria) who meet the eligibility requirements
of TPS to remain in the United States temporarily. See section
244(b)(1)(C), 8 U.S.C. 1254a(b)(1)(C);
The designation of Syria for TPS should be for an 18-month
period from March 29, 2012 through September 30, 2013. See section
244(b)(2) of the Act, 8 U.S.C. 1254a(b)(2);
The date by which Syrian TPS applicants must demonstrate
that they have continuously resided in the United States is established
as March 29, 2012. See section 244(c)(1)(A)(ii) of the Act, 8 U.S.C.
The date by which Syrian TPS applicants must demonstrate
that they have been continuously physically present in the United
States is March 29, 2012, the effective date of this TPS designation of
Syria. See sections 244(b)(2)(A) and (c)(1)(A)(i) of the Act; 8 U.S.C.
1254a(b)(2)(A), (c)(1)(A)(i); and
An estimated 2,500 to 3,000 Syrian nationals (and persons
without nationality who last habitually resided in Syria) may be
eligible for TPS under this designation, based on the issuance of
nonimmigrant visas to Syrian nationals.
Notice of the Designation of Syria for TPS
By the authority vested in me as Secretary under section 244 of the
Act, 8 U.S.C. 1254a, after consultation with the appropriate Government
agencies, I designate Syria for TPS under section 244(b)(1)(C) of the
Act, 8 U.S.C. 1254a(b)(1)(C), for a period of 18 months from March 29,
2012 through September 30, 2013.
Required Application Forms and Application Fees To Register for TPS
To register for TPS for Syria, an applicant must submit:
1. Application for Temporary Protected Status (Form I-821) with the
form fee; and
2. Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765).
If you want an EAD you must pay the Application for
Employment Authorization (Form I-765) fee only if you are age 14
No Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765)
fee is required for an EAD with an initial TPS application if you are
under the age of 14 or over the age of 65.
You must submit both completed application forms together. If you
are unable to pay the required fees, you may apply for a waiver for
these application fees and/or the biometrics services fee described
below by completing a Request for Fee Waiver (Form I-912), or
submitting a personal letter requesting a fee waiver, and providing
satisfactory supporting documentation. For more information on the
application forms and fees for TPS, please visit the USCIS TPS Web page
at http://www.uscis.gov/tps. Fees for Application for Temporary
Protected Status (Form I-821), Application for Employment Authorization
(Form I-765), and biometric services are also described in 8 CFR
Biometric Services Fee
Biometrics (such as fingerprints) are required for all applicants
14 years of age or older. Such applicants must submit a biometric
services fee. As previously stated, if you are unable to pay the
required fees, you may apply for a biometrics fee waiver by completing
a Request for Fee Waiver (Form I-912), or by submitting a personal
letter requesting a fee waiver, and providing satisfactory supporting
documentation. For more information on the biometric services fee,
please visit the USCIS Web site at http://www.uscis.gov/feewaiver. If
your biometrics are required, you will be mailed a notice scheduling
you for an appointment at an Application Support Center to have your
Re-Filing a TPS Application After Receiving a Denial of a Fee Waiver
If you request a fee waiver when filing your TPS and EAD
and your request is denied, you may re-file your application packet
with the correct fees before the filing deadline of September 30, 2013.
If you attempt to submit your application with a fee waiver request
before the initial filing deadline, but you receive your application
back with the USCIS fee waiver denial, and there are fewer than 45 days
before the filing deadline (or the deadline has passed), you may still
re-file your application within the 45-day period after the date on the
USCIS fee waiver denial notice. You must include the correct fees, or
file a new fee waiver request. Your application will not be rejected
even if the deadline has passed, provided it is mailed within those 45
days and all other required information for the application is
included. Please be aware that if you re-file your TPS application with
a new fee waiver request after the deadline based on this guidance and
that new fee waiver request is denied, you cannot re-file again. Note:
Alternatively, you may pay the TPS application fee and biometrics fee
(if age 14 or older) but wait to request an EAD and pay the EAD
application fee after USCIS grants your TPS application.
Mail your application for TPS to the proper address in Table 1:
Table 1--Mailing Address
If . . . Mail to . . .
You are applying through the U.S. USCIS, P.O. Box 6943, Chicago,
Postal Service. IL 60680-6943.
You are using a Non-U.S. Postal Service USCIS, Attn: Syria TPS, 131 S.
delivery service. Dearborn 3rd Floor, Chicago,
If you were granted TPS by an Immigration Judge (IJ) or the Board
of Immigration Appeals (BIA), and you wish to request an EAD, please
mail your application to the address in Table 1. Upon receiving a
Receipt Notice from USCIS, please send an email to
TPSijgrant.firstname.lastname@example.org with the receipt number stating that you
submitted a request for an EAD based on an IJ/BIA grant of TPS. You can
find detailed information on what further information you need to
email, and email addresses on the USCIS TPS Web page at http://www.uscis.gov/tps.
You cannot electronically file your application when applying for
initial registration for TPS. Please mail your application to the
mailing address listed in Table 1.
What type of basic supporting documentation must I submit?
To meet the basic eligibility requirements for TPS, you must submit
evidence that you:
Are a national of Syria or an alien of no nationality who
last habitually resided in Syria. Such documents may include a copy of
your passport if available, other documentation issued by the SARG
showing your nationality (e.g., national identity card, official travel
documentation issued by the SARG), and/or your birth certificate with
English translation accompanied by photo identification. USCIS will
also consider certain forms of secondary evidence supporting your
Syrian nationality. If the evidence presented is insufficient for USCIS
to make a determination as to your nationality, USCIS may request
additional evidence. If you cannot provide a passport, birth
certificate with photo identification, or a national identity document
with your photo or fingerprint, you must submit an affidavit showing
proof of your unsuccessful efforts to obtain such documents and
affirming that you are a national of Syria. However, please be aware
that an interview with an immigration officer will be required if you
do not present any documentary proof of identity or nationality or if
USCIS otherwise requests a personal appearance. See 8 CFR 103.2(b)(9),
Have continually resided in the United States since March
29, 2012. See 8 CFR 244.9(a)(2);
Have been continually physically present in the United
States since March 29, 2012, the effective date of the designation of
Syria. See sections 244(b)(2)(A) and (c)(1)(A)(i) of the Act; 8 U.S.C.
1254a(b)(2)(A), (c)(1)(A)(i); and
Present two color passport-style photographs of yourself.
The filing instructions on the Application for Temporary Protected
Status (Form I-821) list all the documents needed to establish basic
eligibility for TPS. You may also see information on the acceptable
documentation and other requirements for applying for TPS on the USCIS
Web site at www.uscis.gov/tps under ``TPS Designated Country--Syria.''
Do I need to submit additional supporting documentation?
If one or more of the questions listed in Part 4, Question 2 of the
Application for Temporary Protected Status (Form I-821) applies to you,
then you must submit an explanation on a separate sheet(s) of paper
and/or additional documentation. Depending on the nature of the
question(s) you are addressing, additional documentation alone may
suffice, but usually a written explanation will also be needed.
Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
May I request an interim EAD at my local USCIS office?
No. USCIS will not issue interim EADs to TPS applicants at local
When hired, what documentation may I show to my employer as proof of
employment authorization and identity when completing Employment
Eligibility Verification (Form I-9)?
You can find a list of acceptable document choices on page 5 of the
Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9). Employers are required
to verify the identity and employment authorization of all new
employees by using the Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9).
Within 3 days of hire, an employee must present proof of identity and
employment authorization to his or her employer.
You may present any document from List A (reflecting both your
identity and employment authorization), or one document from List B
(reflecting identity) together with one document from List C
(reflecting employment authorization). An EAD is an acceptable document
under ``List A.''
Can my employer require that I produce any other documentation to prove
my status, such as proof of my Syrian citizenship?
No. When completing the Employment Eligibility Verification (Form
I-9), employers must accept any documentation that appears on the lists
of acceptable documentation, and that reasonably appears to be genuine
and that relates to you. Employers may not request documentation that
appear on the Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9).
Therefore, employers may not request proof of Syrian citizenship when
completing the Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9). If
presented with EADs that are unexpired on their face, employers should
accept such EADs as valid ``List A'' documents so long as the EADs
reasonably appear to be genuine and to relate to the employee. Refer to
the ``Note to All Employees'' section for important information about
your rights if your employer rejects lawful documentation, requires
additional documentation, or otherwise discriminates against you
because of your citizenship or immigration status, or national origin.
Note to All Employers
Employers are reminded that the laws requiring employment
eligibility verification and prohibiting unfair immigration-related
employment practices remain in full force. This notice does not
supersede or in any way limit applicable employment verification rules
and policy guidance, including those rules setting forth reverification
requirements. For questions, employers may call the USCIS Customer
Assistance Office at 1-800-357-2099. The USCIS Customer Assistance
Office accepts calls in English and Spanish only. Employers may also
call the Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Special Counsel for
Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC), Employer Hotline
Note to Employees
Employees or applicants may call the DOJ OSC Worker Information
Hotline at 1-800-255-7688 for information regarding employment
discrimination based upon citizenship or immigration status and
national origin, unfair documentary practices related to the Employment
Eligibility Verification (Form I-9), and discriminatory practices
related to E-Verify. Employers must accept any document or combination
of documents acceptable for the Employment Eligibility Verification
(Form I-9) completion if the documentation reasonably appears to be
genuine and to relate to the employee. Employers may not require extra
or additional documentation beyond what is required for the Employment
Eligibility Verification (Form I-9) completion. Further, employees who
receive an initial mismatch via E-Verify must be given an opportunity
to challenge the mismatch, and employers are prohibited from taking
adverse action against such employees based on the initial mismatch
unless and until E-Verify returns a final non-confirmation. The Hotline
accepts calls in multiple languages. Additional information is
available on the OSC Web site at http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/osc/.
Note Regarding Federal, State and Local Government Agencies (Such as
Departments of Motor Vehicles)
State and local government agencies are permitted to create their
own guidelines when granting certain benefits. Each state may have
different laws, requirements, and determinations about what documents
you need to provide to prove eligibility for certain benefits. If you
are applying for a state or local government benefit, you may need to
provide the state or local government agency with documents that show
you are a TPS beneficiary and/or show you are authorized to work based
on TPS. Examples are:
(1) Your EAD that has a valid expiration date; and/or
(2) A copy of your Application for Temporary Protected Status
Approval Notice (Form I-797), if you receive one from USCIS.
Check with the state or local agency regarding which document(s)
the agency will accept. You may also provide the agency with a copy of
Some benefit-granting agencies use the Systematic Alien
Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Program to verify the current
immigration status of applicants for public benefits. If such an agency
has denied your application based solely or in part on a SAVE response
following completion of all required SAVE verification steps, the
agency must offer you the opportunity to appeal the decision in
accordance with the agency's procedures. If the agency has completed
all SAVE verification and you do not believe the response is correct,
you may make an InfoPass appointment for an in-person interview at a
local USCIS office. Detailed information on how to make corrections,
make an appointment, or submit a written request can be found at the
SAVE Web site at www.uscis.gov/save, then by choosing ``How to Correct
Your Records'' from the menu on the right.
[FR Doc. 2012-7498 Filed 3-28-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 9111-97-P
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