Nepalese Now Permitted To Stay In U.S. Until Country Recovers
Temporary Benefit Helps Nepalese—Who Through No Fault Of Own—Were In Danger Of Visa Overstays And Deportation
(Hartford, CT) - U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) today announced that, after his push, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has officially granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Nepalese nationals currently residing in the United States. After the devastating earthquake in Nepal, Blumenthal urged the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to grant TPS, a temporary benefit aimed at providing relief to foreign nationals in the United States whose country has been devastated by natural disaster or civil strife. This designation allows Nepalese nationals, already in the country, to stay in the U.S. for a set period of time while their home country recovers. In response to past natural disasters, the U.S. has extended TPS to Honduras, Nicaragua and Haiti.
“This temporary measure ensures that Nepalese nationals who, through no fault of their own, were in danger of overstaying their visas, will not be forced to return to unsafe and unstable conditions. Nepalese families living in Connecticut watched from overseas as the April earthquake devastated their homeland—killing thousands and injuring many more. As they continue to struggle to ensure the safety of their family and friends back home, granting Temporary Protected Status is a compassionate and commonsense measure that will provide short-term stability and safety to eligible Nepalese nationals,” Blumenthal said.
On April 25th, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake occurred in Nepal, approximately 50 miles northwest of Kathmandu. According to media reports, the earthquake has resulted in roughly 8,700 deaths, including 1,450 in Bhaktapur, Kathmandu and Lalitpur districts, as well as over 10,000 injured people. The UN estimates 8 million people—nearly a third of Nepal’s population—are affected by the earthquake. It’s estimated that the earthquake destroyed more than 500,000 homes and approximately 2.8 million people countrywide were displaced. During the aftermath of the disaster, the U.S. Department of State recommended that U.S. citizens in Nepal exercise caution when traveling in or planning departure from the country. At present, infrastructure is still fragile in the country and access to basic resources like cell phones and the internet is still limited.
TPS is implemented by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in consultation with the Department of State and is a temporary benefit aimed at providing relief to immigrants residing in the United States who are unable to safely return to their home country. TPS can be granted in the event of an ongoing armed conflict or an environmental disaster, as well as other extraordinary and temporary conditions. Once granted TPS, individuals may not be deported, can obtain an employment authorization document and may be granted travel authorization. In addition, individuals cannot be detained by DHS on the basis of their immigration status. However, TPS does not provide a pathway to a green card or citizenship.
In May, Blumenthal and Senators Schumer, Hirono, Coons, Feinstein, Gillibrand, Menendez, Markey, Leahy, Durbin, Boxer, and Kirk wrote to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and Secretary of State John Kerry to urge them to grant TPS for Nepalese nationals currently residing in the United States. Schumer explained that TPS would only be made available to Nepalese nationals who are already in the United States and may be otherwise subject to deportation.
The text of the original letter appears below:
Dear Secretaries Johnson and Kerry,
In light of the tremendous devastation suffered by Nepal as a result of the recent earthquake, we write to request that you grant Temporary Protected Status to eligible Nepalese nationals living in the United States. As of today over 8,000 have reportedly died and thousands more were injured in this natural disaster.
As you know, the earthquake in Nepal has destroyed large swaths of the country, from the capital of Kathmandu to the rural areas, and caused tragic loss of life. It is reportedly the most powerful to strike Nepal since 1934, causing casualties even in neighboring countries. Avalanches triggered on Mount Everest killed locals and visitors, including Americans. Ancient buildings at the core of Nepal’s heritage were destroyed, and the nation is in mourning. Even now, the country could experience deadly aftershocks and landslides.
Almost all local resources are focused on recovery, addressing food and water shortages, and preventing the spread of disease. You have already shown tremendous leadership in this effort by sending immediate aid from the United States, together with our international partners. But Nepal’s task is now to rebuild a country that was already struggling with civil unrest.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Nepalese people are living in the United States, including in our home states Now is not the time to send them back, as their country is devastated and clearly not in a position to receive them.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) was created for precisely this reason – to offer temporary, humane protection to foreign nationals living in the U.S. when extraordinary conditions make it impossible for them to return home. We believe the widespread damage and destruction in Nepal make these people eligible for TPS designation, and we urge you to swiftly consider it.
TPS has been granted in the past in similar circumstances, and we believe this is the safest route to avoid further burdening the Nepalese government in this time of severe distress. Current law already provides strict eligibility criteria to protect our national security, such as excluding criminals from this designation. TPS is not a pathway to citizenship, nor is it a means for bringing over relatives. When the TPS designation of a country is terminated, those foreign nationals revert to the immigration status they held before the designation was granted.
In short, TPS is a temporary, humane, compassionate response that the U.S. can make in addition to all the other assistance we are providing in the region. We must assist the victims of this natural disaster. Thank you for your consideration.