US, Canada offer temporary status to nationals of Ebola-hit countries

1 Dec 14

CANADA, UNITED STATES

The United States and Canada have announced measures to allow nationals of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to stay temporarily in the U.S. and Canada rather than return home.

Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have all been hit hard by the Ebola outbreak. The U.S. and Canada have implemented measures to either monitor (U.S.) or bar (Canada) travelers from Ebola-affected countries.

The more recent announcements, however, concern nationals of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone already in the U.S. and Canada. Both countries consider traveling in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone unsafe, and both are now taking steps to protect nationals from those countries from having to return because of their immigration status.

In the U.S., the Department of Homeland Security said on Nov. 20 that nationals of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone who are currently in the United States may apply for Temporary Protected Status for 18 months. Those who qualify for TPS designation will not be removed from the U.S. and are permitted to work and obtain an Employment Authorization Document. The TPS registration period began Nov. 21 and lasts until May 20, 2015.

Applicants with certain criminal records or who are deemed a threat to national security will be rejected. Liberians who are covered under the Obama administration’s two-year extension of Deferred Enforced Departure can still apply for TPS during the 180-day registration period. Fees for the TPS program may be waived under certain circumstances. For more information, visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ website.

In Canada, Citizenship and Immigration Canada said on Nov. 24 that nationals of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone currently in Canada may apply for an extension of their temporary resident status as a visitor, worker or student. If nationals of the three countries have had their status in Canada expire within the last three months, they may still be eligible.

In order to have status restored, the nationals in question must not have traveled to an Ebola-affected country within the last three months, nor can they intend to travel to an Ebola-affected country while it still has “widespread and persistent/intense transmission of the Ebola virus disease.” For more information, visit Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s website.

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