TPS Designations for Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has designated three West African countries for temporary protected status (TPS), due to the outbreak of Ebola in the region. Effective November 21, 2014, nationals of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone living in the United States are eligible to apply for permission to remain in the U.S. under the TPS program.

Temporary Protected Status

TPS allows nationals of designated countries to remain in the United States for a specified period of time, due to conditions in their respective home countries that would prevent a safe return. The types of conditions that can give rise to a TPS designation include: armed conflicts, environmental disasters, epidemics, earthquakes, and other extraordinary, temporary conditions. Individuals who are granted TPS are protected against removal (deportation) from the U.S., and are eligible to apply for work and travel authorization. The TPS period is temporary, and does not lead to a permanent immigration status.

General Eligibility Requirements

In order to qualify for TPS under this designation, an individual must be a national of Liberia, Guinea, or Sierra Leone, or, if the person has no nationality, s/he must have last habitually resided in one of the designated countries. One also must have been residing in the United States as of November 20, 2014, and must have remained “continuously physically present” in the U.S. since November 21st. The filing deadline is May 20, 2015. More information on the eligibility requirements and application procedure is available on the TPS page of the U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) WebSite.

Special Consideration for Liberians

Due to long-term civil strife, many Liberian nationals in the United States are already protected under a deferred enforced departure (DED) designation that was extended for two years in September 2014. DED provides many of the same immigration benefits as TPS. The USCIS notes, however, that Liberians with DED may also wish to apply for TPS, and are reminded to do so before the May 20, 2015 deadline to preserve TPS eligibility.

Initial TPS Granted for 18 Months

The TPS designation for these three countries has been granted for an initial period of 18 months. If the country conditions do not sufficiently improve during this period, the DHS will have the discretion to extend the duration of the TPS designation. If this occurs, stakeholders must be mindful of the need to reregister and, in most cases, apply to renew work authorization.


The United States has a proud tradition of offering humanitarian relief to foreign nationals during emergency situations. The recent Ebola outbreak has been both frightening and tragic, and this move by the DHS should offer at least a modicum of relief and protection to those who are unable to safely return home.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.