Temporary Protected Status (TPS) has been extended to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea for a period of 18 months, according to U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s November 20, 2014, announcement.  The designation, prompted by the ongoing spread of the Ebola Virus Disease in these Western African countries, allows foreign nationals from these countries who are currently in the United States to apply for TPS, work authorization, and travel authorization with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  Requests for authorization to travel to one or more of these countries will not be approved, barring extraordinary circumstances.

TPS is designated to foreign nationals from certain countries due to conditions that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely or where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately.  This status is offered to nationals of the designated country who are already present in the United States or to individuals without nationality who last resided in a designated country.  TPS has been granted to individuals in the past because of ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster, and outbreak of an epidemic, as is the present case.

The TPS designation comes on the heels of the U.S. State Department’s October 22, 2014, decision requiring all travelers from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea to enter the U.S. through one of five designated airports and undergo an Ebola Virus Disease screening.  The designated airports are New York’s Kennedy, Newark’s Liberty, Washington’s Dulles, Chicago’s O’Hare, and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson. Passengers scheduled to pass through any other airport must re-route their flights to ensure entry through one of these designated airports.

The Ebola Virus Disease also has prompted many employers to create standard operating procedures for responding to employee concerns and complaints related to possible exposure to the virus at locations inside and outside of the United States.  Please contact your Jackson Lewis attorney for assistance in developing such protocols or to address your concerns regarding the impact of the Ebola Virus on your workplace.