IMPORTANT NOTE: The Trump administration is ending TPS for a number of countries as part of efforts to restrict immigration and increase deportation. If you are from a country where you know TPS is ending soon, find an immigration lawyer and start looking for other more permanent options. DO NOT wait until you are in danger, be proactive and act early to ensure you have examined all alternatives.
When Haitians in the United States were given Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in 2011, it benefited 100,000 to 200,000 immigrants affected by the earthquake. This policy was humane and resulted in much needed relief for many people. While TPS is NOT a green card, it can be a way to eventually become a permanent resident in the United states, and is a good option for those whose home countries are in crisis.
WHAT IS TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS?
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is defined as a limited immigration benefit given to immigrants from nations devastated by natural disasters or civil strife. TPS allows people to live and work in the United States for limited times, as a respite to home conditions. As of November 2017, about 300,000 foreign nationals were in the US under temporary protected status. TPS allows you to stay in the United States in a finite way. People with temporary protected status are able to obtain work authorization every 18 months since the designation was made, in some cases for many years.
- TPS is not a green card
- TPS allows for a work permit
- TPS protects beneficiaries from deportation
- Having TPS doesn’t always stop you from applying for other visas or permanent residence
- Once you are granted TPS, you must re-register during each re-registration period to maintain TPS benefits
WHAT COUNTRIES CURRENTLY HAVE TEMPORARY PROTECTION STATUS IN THE US?
The temporary protected status program covers people from 10 countries:
- El Salvador – TPS Will Terminate in 2019
- Haiti – TPS Will Terminate in 2019
- Honduras – TPS at least through July 5 2018 – still waiting for more news
- Nepal – TPS at least through June 24 2018 – still waiting for more news
- Nicaragua – TPS will terminate in 2019
- Somalia – TPS at least through September 17 2018 – still waiting for more news
- Sudan – TPS will terminate in 2018
- South Sudan – TPS at least through May 2 2019 – still waiting for more news
- Syria – TPS at least through September 30 2019 – still waiting for more news
- Yemen – TPS at least through September 3 2018 – still waiting for more news
HOW DO YOU APPLY FOR TPS?
In order to file a Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status, you must first be from one of the countries that has been offered TPS.
TPS applicants must be in the US when the US government designates it. They also must prove that they were present in the US from date of designation – continuous residence. Anyone from that country who enters after that date is not eligible. There must also be no convictions of felonies, or 2 or more misdemeanors in the US.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU FORGET TO REREGISTER FOR YOUR TPS, OR IF THE TPS FOR YOUR COUNTRY IS REVOKED?
In order to live and work in the US under TPS you have to continually reregister at the end of every 18 months. You will also have to reregister for your employment authorization document (EAD). If you forget to reregister you risk losing TPS and possibly being subjected to a removal hearing.
You can file an appeal if you are late for reregistration, but you MUST have a good reason for being late. If you change your address you must update USCICS immediately; they typically do not consider lost mail a good reason.
If the TPS designation for your country is revoked, call an immigration lawyer immediately to see about other options. Often people have held TPS for many years, and would have grounds for applying for more permanent options. If you stay in the US after the TPS designation for your country has been pulled, beyond the date that you have been given to return to your country, you may be at risk of removal.
Remember: It is always better to investigate your options, rather than wait for a finite program to end, and find yourself fighting deportation.