Arlington, VA

This sponsored column is by James Montana, Esq. and Doran Shemin, Esq., practicing attorneys at Steelyard LLC, an immigration-focused law firm located in Arlington, Virginia. The legal information given here is general in nature. If you want legal advice, contact James for an appointment.

ARLnow readers know well that the Washington D.C. metro area has one of the largest Salvadoran populations in the United States. Many Salvadorans in our community have been living and working in the United States lawfully for many years under a program called Temporary Protected Status, also known as TPS. Other immigrants from Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen also hold TPS. Quietly, cheaply and efficiently, TPS has offered a safe harbor for many of our friends and neighbors for decades.

The Trump Administration, for reasons best known to itself, has sought to wind down the program, particularly for Salvadoran, Honduran, Nicaraguan, Sudanese, Haitian and Nepalese citizens. TPS holders, employers and immigration attorneys throughout the country have been waiting on pins and needles to see if the Trump Administration would extend TPS for these countries, thereby allowing many immigrants to continue to be productive members of our community.

Thanks to litigation on a scale best appreciated by watching Game of Thrones battles through a kaleidoscope, TPS has indeed been extended until January 4, 2021 for El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, Honduras and Nepal. (Two years ago, one of your Infallible Writers told you that TPS was ending. He was wrong.)

This array of stopgap extensions is better than nothing. But what are employers supposed to do if they have to worry year after year about losing their workforce when TPS finally ends? Thankfully, there is an answer for these employers: sponsor TPS employees for permanent residency.

Employers who have trusted employees that are authorized to work under the TPS program can file petitions on behalf of these employees that can eventually lead to green cards. This process, called PERM, is a three-step process that allows immigrants to receive permanent residency in the United States. Any company, large or small, can use PERM to petition beloved employees or attractive potential employees.

It starts off with recruitment and certification overseen by the Department of Labor, followed by an immigrant visa petition with the Department of Homeland Security. If all goes well, the employee can then apply for a green card. This process helps employers keep their star employees without worrying about the whims of the government.

If you have TPS, or you work with a team that includes TPS employees, reach out to an immigration attorney to see if this process is right for you. Moving from TPS to a green card requires dealing with multiple bureaucracies, and small mistakes can have major consequences. We’re here to help. We’re also here to answer questions, so please feel free to leave a comment. We read and appreciate them all.

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