A former official of the Nepalese community in the CNMI said they are not at all worried after U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced on Tuesday that they are terminating the designation of Temporary Protected Status for all of its citizens effective in June next year.
USCIS’ TPS designation for Nepal and its citizens will expire on June 24, 2018. They, however, gave its nationals a one-year cushion to make sure of a smooth transition with the program formally ending on June 24, 2019.
Mahesh Thapa, a former president of the local Nepalese community, told Saipan Tribune that currently they are about 50 of their nationals working and residing in the CNMI from a high of more than 100 a few years ago.
“Like the CW1 program, we know that it is going to end. But we are not at all worried since one year is a sufficient time. USCIS has already announced it, so it’s time to look for other options. There are other available options. So they should do their best to look for other options,” said Thapa.
“A lot of our countrymen have either went back to Nepal or flew to the mainland. The ones who decided to stay here have CW status, or other visa and green card holders or have become U.S. citizens like me,” added Thapa, who owns and operates Java Joe’s Coffee Shop with his wife Manju.
He added that the uncertainty of the CW program was among the factors why most of their countrymen opted to leave Saipan. “They are also worried about their status. The issue is not helping our economy.
USCIS is giving Nepalese nationals a 60-day period, from May 22 to July 23 this year, to re-register for their TPS to remain valid until the June 24, 2019 termination. USCIS said it is important for Nepalese nationals who are TPS holders to re-register.
Thapa said Nepalese nationals are also eligible to apply for other U.S. eligible work visas by their employers like the EB or H1 visas.
“We’re also thinking of the remaining members of our community here. So we are reminding them that one year is a sufficient time to apply for a different status and other categories. It all depends on what kind you want to apply for,” he added.
Nepal was among the 10 countries that USCIS designated for TPS including El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
Nepal was designated for TPS after the devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit the country on April 25, 2015.
Nepal’s designation for TPS was about to end in 2016 but former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson gave an 18-month extension effective on Dec. 25, 2016 to June 24, 2018.
Current DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen decided to terminate Nepal’s TPS designation after reviewing the country’s current condition as they had already made great progress in their recovery efforts after the disaster that killed close to 9,000 people three years ago.
DHS saw that most of the basic institutions, like schools and hospitals that were destroyed or damaged, have already been rebuilt while construction efforts to other establishments and homes are near completion.