Many South Asian advocacy organizations are currently suggesting to Congress and President Bush that the U.S. provide extended stay to Pakistani citizens currently in the United States. These advocates are suggesting that Pakistanis with expiring visas be provided “Temporary Protected Status” until the recovery from the earthquake of last month is fully underway.
A bill was recently introduced in Congress by Representative Al Green (D-TX) that would create this designation. “Pakistan’s being an ally and helping the United States, we ought to show Pakistan that we are appreciative for the help that’s been extended,” said Green.
The proposed Temporary Protected Status would allow an extension of stay for Pakistani nationals that would be in danger if sent back to their home nation or would put an extreme strain on Pakistan’s infrastructure. While much of Pakistan is still functioning, the regions where the October 8 earthquake hit have been devastated by the natural disaster, with the death toll reaching 80,000.
According to USCIS, however, the key factor in considering creating such a status for Pakistani nationals is a request from that nation. According to an embassy official, Pakistan does not intend to make such a request; to do so would imply that there are numerous Pakistani nationals currently residing illegally in the U.S.
Nevertheless, there are surely many Pakistani nationals with expired visas that need some form of immigration relief; the devastation in their home country is immense and they would face drastic hardship if forced to return home.
Only a few nations are currently on the Temporary Protected Status list. They include Honduras, Nicaragua and Sudan.