**TPS applicants, including applicants from Afghanistan and Ukraine, are facing excessive processing delays and inconsistent policies.**
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas expressing concern about the Department’s processing of work authorization applications filed by new Temporary Protected Status (TPS) seekers. Discrepancies between DHS’s publicly-stated, legally-required policies and actual processing protocols are exacerbating long delays for TPS applicants including those from Afghanistan and Ukraine.
“I am hearing from first-time TPS applicants, including Afghans and Ukrainians, who recently arrived in the United States with few economic resources. Despite being forced to flee their homes, these individuals are eager to work, to support their families and to contribute to their new communities. Furthermore, local businesses often depend on such migrants to fill labor shortages across a variety of industries, including food services, landscape, hospitality and retail,” wrote Shaheen.
In addition to widespread processing delays, USCIS’s processing protocols appear to conflict with the program’s statutory requirements. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is legally required to conduct a prima facie (first impression) review of all TPS cases. If a TPS application is valid on its face, USCIS must provide the applicant with an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) before fully adjudicating their TPS request. The USCIS website also informs applicants that they will receive a decision on their EAD petition before their TPS application is resolved. Despite these requirements, in Shaheen’s letter, she explains that her office has not observed this policy being followed in recent TPS cases.
Shaheen closed her letter with a series of questions to help remedy this inconsistency and wrote, “I have long expressed concerns about the processing delays at USCIS. TPS applicants cannot afford yet another barrier that prevents them from joining the workforce and supporting their families.”
The full text of the letter can be found here.