The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has granted Nepal Temporary Protected Status (TPS) under the Immigration and Nationality Act following the devastation of the massive 7.8-magnitude earthquake of April 25 and subsequent earthquakes and aftershocks which are estimated to have killed over 5,200 people, injured more than 12,500 people, and displaced approximately 2.8 million people.
This designation will allow approximately 10,000 to 25,000 Nepali nationals currently in the United States to stay and to work until December 2016, even if their visas expire, without threat of being detained or deported.
"The natural disaster this spring in Nepal made it unsafe for people to return. We have heard reports of crumbling buildings and infrastructure, and the fact is that women and children are disproportionately affected by natural disasters and become more at-risk for mistreatment or abuse,” US Representative Mike Honda told NBC News, “Thanks to this decision, Nepali people will not be forced to return to an unsafe situation."
In addition to safety concerns, being authorized to work in the United States will allow Nepali nationals to work and send money back to Nepal to help the country rebuild.
Other countries which have been granted TPS in the past due to ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, and other extraordinary conditions include Haiti, Honduras, El Salvador, and Syria.
To be eligible for TPS, Nepali nationals must have been both continuously physically present and continuously residing in the United States since June 24, 2015, pass security checks, and register before December 21, 2015. Nonprofit organizations such as New York-based Adhikaar and Asian Amerians Advancing Justice – Los Angeles are preparing to help individuals with their applications.