Two months after Nepal was struck with a deadly 7.8 earthquake, the Department of Homeland Security has designated the country for special immigration protections. Nepalis living in the U.S. may now apply for Temporary Protected Status, giving them the right to work and live in the country for next 18 months.

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is special program used when conditions in a country — such as warfare or a natural disaster — make it difficult for the immigrant to return home. Currently there are 12 countries designated for TPS including Syria, El Salvador and Sierra Leone.

The TPS designation for Nepal began Jun. 24, 2015 and ends Dec. 25, 2016.

To apply for TPS, individuals must meet certain eligibility requirements, including:

  1. Proving they have been “continuously physically present” in the U.S. since Jun. 24, 2015
  2. Proving they have been “continuously residing” in the U.S. since Jun. 24, 2015

The application for TPS is Form I-821. Applicants can download the application from the USCIS website. The application fee varies depending on the applicant’s age and whether or not he or she is requesting a work permit. In some cases, applicants may request to have the fee waived.

For more information about TPS, visit the USCIS website.