|U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell urges the State Department to combat disease in Yemen.|
DEARBORN — Yemen has been re-designated for a Temporary Protected Status (TPS), allowing its visiting citizens to apply to remain in the United States as famine continues to threaten millions in the country.
The decision to re-designate, made by the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, also extends TPS to those already protected under the status for another 18 months if they reapply with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
TPS was originally granted to eligible Yemenis in Sept. 2015 after U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) urged Congress to evacuate and help Yemeni citizens escaping poverty, malnutrition and war to seek refuge in the U.S.
Dingell applauded the DHS for the re-designation in a statement early this month.
“After nearly two years of armed conflict, the situation in Yemen remains dire,” she said. “If Yemeni nationals visiting or living in the U.S. are required to return home during this horrific civil war, their personal safety and lives would be put at risk. This important re-designation by the secretary of Homeland Security will provide families relief and a safe haven during this time of conflict; and it is critical that all who may be eligible apply.”
The American Human Rights Council (AHRC) also welcomed the TPS extension and urged those who have registered to renew and those who have not to do so.
AHRC Executive Director Imad Hamad stressed the accountability the U.S. has to the people of a war-torn country with which it’s involved.
“We welcome the extension of TPS for Yemen,” Hamad said. “However, this is a temporary relief that does not relieve the U.S. and the rest of the international community from the moral obligation to put an end to the conflict in Yemen.”
Dingell, the AHRC and several other local civil rights and ethnic organizations, like the Yemeni American Benevolent Association (YABA) and the Arab American Civil Rights League (ACRL), aggressively fought for the protection of Yemenis. They organized information sessions to facilitate providing resources for Yemenis to apply for TPS and addressed growing concerns from the Yemeni American community.
Following the initial establishment of TPS for Yemen, YABA Executive Director Ali Baleed Almaklani also thanked the DHS for turning the effort into a reality.
“This designation is something we have been working on for a long time,” Almaklani said. “It will provide much-needed relief for our community during a time of severe violence and civil strife.”
Nearly 2.2 million Yemeni children are acutely malnourished, victims of the near-collapse of the health care system during two years of escalating conflict, according to the U.N. children’s fund UNICEF.
At least 462,000 are suffering from severe acute malnutrition, as food supplies have been disrupted by the devastating war between the Saudi-backed government and Houthi militias, the agency said.
The TPS re-designation for Yemen is effective March 4 and will be in effect through Sept. 3, 2018. During that period, eligible Yemeni nationals (and people without nationality who last resided in Yemen) approved for TPS will not be removed from the U.S.
A standard TPS application comes with a $515 application fee. All applicants must be fingerprinted and photographed as part of the application process. It also grants applicants employment authorization and authorization to travel.
Temporary residents with financial struggles are able to apply for a request of waiver of fees.
Residents who have one felony or two misdemeanor convictions are not eligible for TPS status. Students who are here on an F-1 visa can apply for TPS designation.
Those with current TPS under Yemen’s designation who would like to keep their status must re-register during the 60-day re-registration period that runs from January 4 through March 6.
Those without TPS may file an initial application to register under Yemen’s recent designation. The TPS package must be filed January 4 through July 3. Applicants are encouraged to register as soon as possible within the 180-day initial registration period.
USCIS has automatically extended the validity of Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) issued under the initial designation of TPS Yemen for an additional six months, through Sept. 3.
For more information about the application process and eligibility requirements, please visit www.ucis.gov/tps.
Members of the community who need assistance should contact Dingell’s Dearborn office at (313) 278-2936.