Typhoon Haiyan’s (Yolanda) horrific devastation has impacted lives not only in the Philippines but worldwide. On the U.S. front, the attorneys of Reeves & Associates are working tirelessly to obtain immigration relief for Filipinos in the U.S. impacted by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). Almost immediately after news of the severity of the tragedy was learned, the firm’s senior partners began efforts to get the Philippines designated for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The partners submitted a petition to the White House (which can be found at http://wh.gov/lBlWu or, https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/designate-philippines-temporary-protected-status-tps/ncjj2YCP), wrote to the President, and contacted Congressional leaders to request that the President, through the Department of Homeland Security, designate the Philippines for TPS. The firm’s partners also met with senior Filipino diplomatic officials and Filipino profession associations to coordinate requesting TPS designation. We have also endorsed the immigration bar’s request for TPS designation.
TPS is a form of humanitarian relief the Executive Branch can grant to nationals whose home country has been struck by tremendous calamity such as armed conflict or environmental disaster. TPS designation will provide Filipinos in the U.S. a safe haven until they can return home. It will protect them against deportation and removal. TPS will also allow qualifying Filipinos to work and support their families in the Philippines who were impacted by the Typhoon. It ensures scarce financial resources are not stressed by the return of Filipinos and allocated to those on the ground hit the hardest by typhoon. This relief is crucial for the Philippines which is facing the specter of rescue efforts, rebuilding, and restoration. The return of its citizens from abroad to dangerous situations only further taxes a nation overly burdened by extraordinary conditions.
While the Philippines has not been designated for TPS, the Immigration Service has begun to act and announced the following forms of immigration relief are available to qualifying Filipinos in the U.S.:
- Change or extension of nonimmigrant status for an individual currently in the United States, even when the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired;
- Extension of certain grants of parole made by USCIS;
- Extension of certain grants of advance parole, and expedited processing of advance parole requests;
- Expedited adjudication and approval, where possible, of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship;
- Expedited processing of immigrant petitions for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs);
- Expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications, where appropriate; and
- Assistance to LPRs stranded overseas without immigration or travel documents, such as Permanent Resident Cards (Green Cards). USCIS and the Department of State will coordinate on these matters when the LPR is stranded in a place that has no local USCIS office.
We applaud the USCIS’ prompt recognition of the situation and taking what we hope are the first steps to help Filipinos. We trust the Department of Homeland Security will quickly recognize that even greater relief, such as the designation of TPS is needed and merited by the Philippines.