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Arab American activists are welcoming news that the United States will grant special status to Syrians currently in the United States. Today, U.S. Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano approved the submitted Request for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Syrian nationals. This means that Syrians in American will be allowed to remain beyond their current visas while their home country remains in turmoil.

In light of the deteriorating conditions in Syria, I am announcing that DHS will be designating Syria for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Syrians currently present in the United States. Conditions in Syria have worsened to the point where Syrian nationals already in the United States would face serious threats to their personal safety if they were to return to their home country. –Statement from Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano on Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Syrian Nationals

Arab American Institute President Jim Zogby called the move “welcome news and a relief for thousands of Syrian visitors and their families.”

It’s a case where a simple change in policy will have a significant impact on people’s lives, and in this case it is deserved, and needed. — James Zogby, Washington, March 23, 2012

TPS would apply only to those already in the U.S. It is a temporary immigration status that can be extended to an individual as long as the situation in the petitioner’s home country is  unstable. Syrians granted TPS will be allowed to work inside the United States.

Details and procedures for applying for TPS are available at www.uscis.gov/tps.

Cecily Hilleary

Cecily began her reporting career in the 1990s, covering US Middle East policy for Dubai-TV English. She has lived and/or worked in the Middle East, North Africa and Gulf regions, consulting and producing for several regional radio and television networks and production houses, including MBC, Al-Arabiya, the former Emirates Media Incorporated and Al-Ikhbaria. She brings to VOA and MEV a keen understanding of the region's top social, cultural and political issues.

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