Temporary Protected Status re-registration for Somali refugees now open

The United States Department of Homeland Security announced Monday that people with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) under Somalia’s designation who want to maintain their status through the 18-month extension period ending on March 17, 2020 must re-register between Aug. 27 through Oct. 26.

TPS was first approved for Somalia back in 1991 because of the country’s brutal civil war. However, if protections end, those refugees would be forced to leave the country or face deportation.

Re-registration procedures, including how to renew employment authorization documents, have been posted online at uscis.gov/tps. All applicants must submit Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status. Applicants may also request an employment authorization document by submitting a Form I-765 at the same time or separately at a later date. Both forms are free for download at uscis.gov/tps.

USCIS will issue new employment authorization documents with a March 17, 2020 expiration date to eligible Somalia TPS beneficiaries who re-register and apply in a timely manner, but due to processing times not all re-registrants will receive new documents before their current ones expire on Sept. 17, 2018. With those delays in mind, the government has automatically extended the validity of those Sept. 17 expiration documents for 180 days, through March 16, 2019.

On July 19 the Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced the Temporary Protected Status for refugees from Somalia, many of whom live in Minnesota, would be extended for 18 months. 

"The decision to extend TPS for Somalia was made after a review of the conditions upon which the country’s designation is based," Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen said in a statement. "Following careful consideration of available information, including recommendations received as part of an inter-agency consultation process, the Secretary determined that the conditions supporting Somalia’s designation for TPS continue to exist. Thus, under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be extended." 

Approximately 500 Somalis currently have TPS. 

Activists with CAIR-MN expressed disappointment that TPS was only given an extension and was not reinstated, which means Somali nationals who came to the U.S. after May 1, 2012 will not be eligible for TPS.