Immigration to the US: Temporary residence

Temporary residency is a status held during the US immigration process, and it is granted to nationals from eligible countries. As part of the Immigration Act of 1990, Congress provided a way for the Attorney General to offer temporary residency to those who could not return home due to natural disaster, war, or other reasons.

In 2003, in line with 2002’s Homeland Security Act, the ability to grant temporary residency was taken from the Attorney General’s office and given to the Secretary of Homeland Security. The program fell under the jurisdiction of US Citizenship and Immigration Services- part of the Department of Homeland Security. During their temporary residency, nationals from certain countries may stay in the US and can legally work. However, temporary status does not lead to permanent resident status. When the Secretary of Homeland Security terminates an immigrant’s status, they retain that which they had before. If an immigrant was unlawful before that point, they become so again.

Anyone who is a national of a country, or someone without a nationality and living in an eligible country can apply for temporary resident status if they can establish a continuous presence in the US. They cannot have any security-related or criminal acts on their record, and they must apply within a certain timeframe. If the Secretary extends residency beyond the set time period, the immigrant must reregister.

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