Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a vital humanitarian-based immigration program that offers temporary relief to foreign nationals from designated countries experiencing ongoing armed conflict, natural disasters, or extraordinary conditions that prevent them from returning safely. TPS allows eligible individuals to live, work, and contribute to their communities in the United States without fear of deportation. This program is an essential lifeline for many people who would face significant danger if forced to return to their home countries.
In this comprehensive guide to Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in the U.S., we will cover a range of topics, including,
Eligibility for TPS
To qualify for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), applicants must meet specific eligibility requirements set by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). These criteria ensure that TPS is granted only to individuals who genuinely need protection due to the ongoing conditions in their home countries. The primary eligibility requirements for TPS include:
Applicants must be nationals of a country currently designated for TPS or, in some cases, individuals without nationality who last habitually resided in the designated country.
Applicants must file for TPS during the initial registration or re-registration period announced by USCIS. Late registration may be accepted if the applicant meets specific requirements, such as demonstrating good cause for failing to register on time.
Continuous Physical Presence:
Applicants must have been continuously physically present in the United States since the effective date of their country’s most recent TPS designation.
Applicants must have continuously resided in the United States since the date specified in their country’s TPS designation notice.
Applicants must not be inadmissible under any grounds listed in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Some grounds of inadmissibility may be waived on a case-by-case basis, depending on the circumstances.
Criminal and Security-Related Bars:
Applicants must not have been convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States and must not pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Non-TPS Related Immigration Status:
Applicants must not be subject to any of the mandatory bars to asylum, such as having participated in the persecution of others or being involved in terrorist activities.
Exceptions and Waivers:
In certain cases, exceptions or immigration waivers may apply to specific eligibility requirements, allowing individuals who do not meet all the criteria to still be considered for TPS. It is essential to consult with an experienced immigration lawyer to determine if any exceptions or waivers may apply to your situation.
It is crucial to understand that meeting these criteria does not guarantee TPS approval. The USCIS evaluates each application on a case-by-case basis and has the discretion to deny TPS if they believe the applicant does not meet the requirements or poses a risk to public safety or national security.
TPS Designated Countries
Countries designated for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) by the United States government are experiencing ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions that prevent their citizens from safely returning home. TPS designation ensures that eligible individuals from these countries can temporarily live and work in the United States without fear of deportation.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Afghanistan:
TPS was designated for Afghanistan in 2022 due to ongoing armed conflict, human rights abuses by the Taliban, and other extraordinary country conditions.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Burma (Myanmar):
Burma was designated for TPS in 2021 in response to the military coup, the one-year state of emergency, large-scale human rights abuses, and the resulting humanitarian crisis.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Cameroon:
TPS was designated for Cameroon in 2022 due to extreme violence perpetrated by government forces and armed separatists, as well as a rise in attacks led by Boko Haram.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) El Salvador:
TPS was designated for El Salvador in 2001 following a series of devastating earthquakes that caused extensive damage to the country’s infrastructure and displaced thousands of people.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Ethiopia:
Ethiopia was designated for TPS in 2022 as a result of conflict-related violence, a humanitarian crisis involving severe food shortages, flooding, drought, and displacement.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Haiti:
Haiti was designated for TPS in 2010 after a catastrophic earthquake left widespread destruction, displacing millions and leading to a severe humanitarian crisis.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Honduras:
Honduras was designated for TPS in 1999 due to the widespread devastation caused by Hurricane Mitch, which killed thousands and resulted in massive infrastructure damage.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Nepal:
TPS was designated for Nepal in 2015 following a series of powerful earthquakes that led to extensive damage, loss of life, and a humanitarian crisis.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Nicaragua:
TPS was designated for Nicaragua in 1999 in response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Mitch, which killed thousands and caused widespread destruction.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Somalia:
Somalia was designated for TPS in 1991 due to ongoing armed conflict and a humanitarian crisis resulting from violence, famine, and widespread displacement of people.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) South Sudan:
TPS was designated for South Sudan in 2011 due to ongoing armed conflict, humanitarian crises, and widespread displacement of people.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Sudan:
Sudan was designated for TPS in 1997 because of ongoing armed conflict and a humanitarian crisis resulting from violence, famine, and displacement of people.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Syria:
TPS was designated for Syria in 2012 due to the ongoing civil war, which has caused widespread destruction, loss of life, and a severe humanitarian crisis.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Ukraine:
TPS was designated for Ukraine in 2022 following Russia’s premeditated and unprovoked attack, which has led to ongoing war, senseless violence, and Ukrainians seeking refuge in other countries.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Venezuela:
The ongoing humanitarian and political crisis in Venezuela led to TPS designation in 2022. The situation has resulted in widespread violence, political persecution, food and medicine shortages, and other systemic collapses in vital infrastructure.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Yemen:
Yemen was designated for TPS in 2015 as a result of ongoing armed conflict, humanitarian crises, and the widespread displacement of people.
TPS designation is subject to change, and it is crucial to stay updated on the current list of TPS designated countries. It’s important to remember that TPS is not a permanent solution. The U.S. government periodically reviews each country’s TPS designation and may decide to terminate the status if conditions have significantly improved and the country can safely accommodate the return of its nationals.
The following list includes countries for which TPS has expired, and their citizens are no longer eligible for TPS protection:
- Angola: TPS expired on March 29, 2003
- Bosnia-Herzegovina: TPS expired on February 10, 2001
- Burundi: TPS expired on May 2, 2009
- Guinea: TPS expired on May 21, 2017
- Guinea-Bissau: TPS expired on September 10, 2000
- Province of Kosovo: TPS expired on December 8, 2000
- Kuwait: TPS expired on March 27, 1992
- Lebanon: TPS expired on April 9, 1993
- Liberia: TPS expired on May 21, 2017
- Montserrat: TPS expired on August 27, 2004
- Rwanda: TPS expired on December 6, 1997
- Sierra Leone: TPS expired on May 21, 2017
Benefits of Temporary Protected Status
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) provides several significant benefits to eligible individuals from designated countries. These benefits help TPS recipients maintain a safe and stable life in the United States until it is safe for them to return to their home country. Some of the key benefits of TPS include:
Protection from Removal
One of the primary benefits of TPS is protection from removal (deportation) from the United States. Individuals with TPS are not subject to removal proceedings during the designated period, provided they continue to meet the eligibility criteria.
TPS beneficiaries are eligible to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), allowing them to work legally in the United States. This can help individuals support themselves and their families while they are unable to return to their home country.
In some cases, individuals with TPS may be granted permission to travel abroad by applying for a travel document known as Advance Parole. It is important to note that travel authorization is not guaranteed and is subject to approval by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Temporary Relief from Inadmissibility
While TPS does not directly grant any immigration status or lead to a Green Card (lawful permanent residency), it does provide temporary relief from certain inadmissibility grounds. This means that individuals with TPS may be eligible to apply for other forms of immigration relief, such as adjustment of status, without being subject to certain bars that may otherwise apply.
Access to Certain Benefits and Services
In some states, TPS beneficiaries may be eligible for certain state and local benefits and services, such as driver’s licenses, in-state tuition for higher education, and access to public assistance programs. Eligibility for these benefits varies by state, so it’s important to research the specific policies in your area.
Limited Protection for Family Members
Although TPS does not automatically extend to family members, some relatives may be eligible for “derivative” TPS benefits if they independently qualify for TPS based on their own nationality. Derivative beneficiaries can also apply for work authorization and may be eligible for the same benefits and services as the principal TPS holder.
It is important to note that TPS is a temporary form of relief, and the benefits it provides can be terminated if the U.S. government decides to remove a country from TPS designation. TPS recipients should remain informed about the status of their country’s TPS designation and consider exploring other immigration options, such as adjustment of status through marriage to a U.S. citizen or other family-based Green Card petitions to maintain their legal status in the United States.
How to Apply for TPS
Applying for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) requires eligible individuals to follow a specific process and submit the necessary documentation to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Here are the general steps involved in applying for TPS:
- Check Your Country’s TPS Designation: Before applying, ensure your country is currently designated for TPS. The list of designated countries can be found on the USCIS website. Be aware of the registration period, as you must apply for TPS within the designated time frame.
- Complete the Required Forms: To apply for TPS, you must complete Form I-821 (Application for Temporary Protected Status) and, if you want to work in the United States, Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization). You can find both forms and their instructions on the USCIS website.
- Gather Supporting Documentation: Along with the application forms, you must submit evidence to prove your eligibility for TPS. This may include proof of your nationality, continuous residence in the U.S., and any other required documentation specific to your country’s TPS designation.
- Pay the Applicable Fees: There are fees associated with submitting the TPS application and, if applicable, the employment authorization application. You must include the required fees with your application, unless you qualify for a fee waiver. To request a fee waiver, you must submit Form I-912 (Request for Fee Waiver) along with your TPS application.
- Submit Your Application: Once you have completed the forms, gathered the necessary documentation, and included the required fees, you can submit your TPS application to the appropriate USCIS office. The address for submission can be found in the instructions for Form I-821.
- Attend a Biometrics Appointment: After USCIS receives your application, you may be required to attend a biometrics appointment to have your fingerprints, photograph, and signature taken. USCIS will notify you of the date, time, and location of your appointment.
- Wait for a Decision: USCIS will review your application and make a decision on your TPS eligibility. If your application is approved, you will receive a notice of approval and, if you applied for employment authorization, an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
It is essential to keep your TPS registration up-to-date, as you must re-register during each re-registration period to maintain your TPS status. Be sure to follow the re-registration instructions provided by USCIS to avoid jeopardizing your TPS benefits.
Termination of TPS
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is not a permanent immigration status, and it may be terminated by the U.S. government under certain circumstances. The termination of TPS for a specific country can have significant implications for its beneficiaries. Here are some key points to understand about TPS termination:
Reasons for TPS Termination:
The U.S. government may decide to terminate TPS for a designated country if it determines that the conditions that led to the original designation no longer exist. This could be due to improved safety, political stability, or other factors that eliminate the need for TPS protection.
Notice of TPS Termination:
When the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) decides to terminate TPS for a specific country, it will publish a notice in the Federal Register at least 60 days before the termination becomes effective. TPS beneficiaries should pay close attention to these announcements and be prepared to take appropriate action.
Impact on TPS Beneficiaries:
Once TPS is terminated for a country, its beneficiaries will lose their TPS-related benefits, including protection from removal, work authorization, and any other associated benefits. They will return to their prior immigration status, which may result in a loss of legal status in the U.S. if they do not have an alternative immigration option.
Exploring Alternative Immigration Options:
TPS beneficiaries should explore potential alternative immigration options, such as family-based or employment-based visas, adjustment of status, or asylum. Taking timely action can help ensure a smoother transition and minimize the risk of losing legal status in the U.S.
Preparing for the Future:
TPS beneficiaries should prepare for the possibility of TPS termination by gathering important documents, staying informed about changes to TPS designations, and seeking legal advice on their options. By being proactive, they can better navigate the challenges that may arise as a result of TPS termination.
Common Challenges and Issues in TPS
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients may face a variety of challenges and issues while maintaining their status and navigating the U.S. immigration system. Here are some common challenges and issues that TPS beneficiaries should be aware of:
- Maintaining Eligibility: TPS beneficiaries must continuously meet the eligibility requirements, which include maintaining a clean criminal record and not being deemed a national security risk. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in the loss of TPS status and its associated benefits.
- Timely Re-registration: TPS recipients must re-register for their status during specified registration periods. Missing a re-registration deadline may lead to the termination of TPS status and the loss of work authorization.
- Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Renewals: TPS beneficiaries often face delays in the processing of their EAD renewal applications, which can result in gaps in work authorization. These gaps can create difficulties in maintaining employment and supporting themselves and their families.
- Limited Immigration Options: TPS is a temporary status and does not provide a direct pathway to permanent residency or citizenship. TPS beneficiaries may find it challenging to identify and secure alternative immigration options, especially if they do not have family or employment-based connections in the U.S.
- Uncertainty and Anxiety: The temporary nature of TPS, combined with the potential for termination or changes in designation, can create a sense of uncertainty and anxiety for TPS recipients and their families. This can impact their ability to plan for the future, including making long-term commitments and investments.
- Family Separation: TPS beneficiaries who have U.S.-born children or other family members with different immigration statuses may face the difficult prospect of family separation if their TPS status is terminated and they are unable to secure an alternative immigration option.
Being aware of these challenges and seeking the assistance of an TPS immigration expert can help TPS beneficiaries navigate these issues and explore potential solutions.
How an Immigration Lawyer Can Help with TPS
Navigating the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) process can be complex and challenging. An experienced immigration lawyer can play a crucial role in helping TPS beneficiaries and their families by:
- Assessing Eligibility: An immigration lawyer can evaluate your specific situation to determine if you are eligible for TPS or if there are other immigration options available to you.
- Guiding Through the Application Process: An immigration lawyer can guide you through the TPS application process, ensuring that all necessary forms and supporting documents are submitted accurately and on time.
- Advocating for Your Rights: If you encounter any issues with your TPS application or status, an immigration lawyer can advocate on your behalf, addressing concerns with the relevant authorities and representing you in immigration proceedings if necessary.
- Exploring Alternative Immigration Options: An immigration lawyer can help you explore other potential immigration options beyond TPS, such as family or employment-based visas, asylum, or other forms of relief.
- Assisting with EAD Renewals: An immigration lawyer can assist you in applying for Employment Authorization Document (EAD) renewals, ensuring that your application is complete and submitted in a timely manner.
- Advising on the Termination of TPS: If your TPS designation is terminated or your country’s TPS status changes, an immigration lawyer can help you understand the implications and explore alternative options to maintain your legal status in the U.S.
- Offering Emotional Support: The uncertainty and stress associated with TPS can be overwhelming. An immigration lawyer can provide not only legal advice but also emotional support and reassurance throughout the process.
Engaging the services of an immigration lawyer can significantly improve your chances of successfully navigating the TPS process and securing your future in the United States.
If you or a loved one are eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or have questions about TPS eligibility, benefits, or application process, don’t hesitate to seek professional guidance. An experienced immigration lawyer at Glenn Immigration Law Firm in Atlanta can help you navigate the complexities of TPS and ensure that your application is accurately and promptly submitted. Contact us today to schedule an initial immigration consultation and take the first step towards securing your TPS protection.
Temporary Protected Status FAQs
In this section, we will address some of the most frequently asked questions about Temporary Protected Status (TPS). These FAQs cover a range of topics related to TPS, including eligibility, benefits, application process, and more. Please note that the information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.
What is Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a temporary immigration status granted to eligible nationals of designated countries experiencing ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or extraordinary and temporary conditions that make it difficult or unsafe for their citizens to return.
Which countries are currently designated for TPS?
Designated countries for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) may change over time, as new countries may be added or existing countries may have their TPS designations terminated. It is essential to check the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for the most current list of TPS-designated countries.
How long does TPS last?
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a temporary status, usually granted for periods of 6 to 18 months. However, the Secretary of Homeland Security may extend a country’s TPS designation for additional periods if conditions in the designated country have not improved sufficiently.
Can TPS beneficiaries work in the United States?
Yes, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beneficiaries are eligible to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which allows them to work legally in the United States.
Can TPS beneficiaries travel outside the United States?
Traveling internationally while on Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is possible, but you must obtain advance parole before leaving the United States by submitting Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document). Failure to obtain advance parole may result in the loss of your TPS and the inability to re-enter the United States.
Can TPS lead to a Green Card or U.S. citizenship?
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) does not directly lead to a Green Card or U.S. citizenship. However, TPS beneficiaries may be eligible for other immigration benefits or relief, such as family or employment-based visas, asylum, or other forms of relief, which could potentially lead to permanent residency or citizenship.
What happens if my TPS is terminated?
If your Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is terminated, you will return to the immigration status you held before obtaining TPS, unless you have obtained another lawful immigration status during your time in TPS. If you do not have another legal immigration status, you may become subject to removal from the United States.
Can my family members also apply for TPS?
Only individuals who meet the eligibility requirements for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) may apply. However, if your family members are also nationals of a designated TPS country and meet the eligibility criteria, they may apply for TPS individually.
Can I appeal a TPS denial?
If your Temporary Protected Status (TPS) application is denied, you may appeal the decision by filing Form I-290B (Notice of Appeal or Motion) within 30 days of the date on the denial notice.
How can I check the status of my TPS application?
You can check the status of your Temporary Protected Status (TPS) application by visiting the USCIS Case Status Online tool and entering your receipt number. This will provide you with updates on your application and any actions you may need to take.
How do I renew my TPS?
To renew your Temporary Protected Status (TPS), you must re-register during the specified registration period announced by USCIS for your designated country. This typically involves submitting a new Form I-821, along with any required supporting documents and fees. Additionally, you may need to apply for a new EAD if your current EAD is expiring.
How do I know if my TPS has been automatically extended?
USCIS will announce automatic extensions of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Employment Authorization Document (EAD) for specific countries on their website. When an automatic extension is granted, it will include a new expiration date for TPS and EADs. It is crucial to stay informed about updates related to your designated country to ensure you maintain your TPS status and work authorization.
Can I change my address while on TPS?
Yes, you can change your address while on Temporary Protected Status (TPS). You must notify USCIS of any changes to your address within ten days of the change by submitting Form AR-11 (Change of Address). It is essential to keep your information up to date with USCIS to receive any important notices or updates about your TPS.
Can I be deported while on TPS?
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beneficiaries are generally protected from deportation unless they commit certain crimes, engage in fraud, or otherwise violate the terms of their TPS status.
What should I do if my TPS country is not renewed?
If your Temporary Protected Status (TPS) country’s designation is not renewed, it is essential to explore other immigration options to maintain your legal status in the United States. You may be eligible for other forms of immigration relief, such as family or employment-based visas, asylum, or other humanitarian programs.
Can I attend school while on TPS?
Yes, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beneficiaries are generally allowed to attend school in the United States. However, eligibility for in-state tuition, financial aid, and other educational benefits may vary depending on state laws and individual school policies.
Can I obtain a driver’s license while on TPS?
Yes, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beneficiaries are generally eligible to obtain a driver’s license or state ID in the United States. The specific requirements and documentation needed to obtain a driver’s license or state ID may vary by state, so it is essential to check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for information about the application process.
What happens if I lose my TPS documentation?
If you lose your Temporary Protected Status (TPS) documentation, such as your EAD, you should report the loss to USCIS and apply for a replacement. To replace a lost EAD, you must submit Form I-765, along with the required documentation and fees. If you lose other TPS-related documents, contact USCIS for guidance on obtaining replacements.