What is Temporary Protected Status?
The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) may designate foreign countries for Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) when the foreign country’s nationals are unable to safely return. Such dangerous conditions include, but are not limited to, ongoing armed conflicts (civil wars), extreme environmental disasters (earthquakes and hurricanes), or disease epidemics.
What are the benefits of Temporary Protected Status?
TPS, while temporary, provide noncitizens with important benefits. First, TPS beneficiaries are not removable during the duration of their TPS. This is crucial for TPS applicants in removal proceedings before an Immigration Judge. In addition, agencies under the Department of Homeland Security, such as the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) and Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) may not detain a TPS beneficiary on account of their immigration status. Secondly, TPS beneficiaries may apply for work authorization (Form I-765) or travel documents (Form I-131).
It is important to note that TPS neither confers immigration status nor does it lead to legal permanent residence (i.e. a green card). As the name suggests, TPS is only temporary. However, TPS beneficiaries are not precluded from seeking more permanent forms of immigration status. A TPS beneficiary may apply for nonimmigrant or immigrant status as long as they are eligible.
As of date, DHS has designated the following countries for TPS:
- El Salvador
- Sierra Leone
- South Sudan
To see the most current TPS Country Designation, visit U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) website at https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/temporary-protected-status
Am I Eligible for Temporary Protected Status?
First, an applicant must be a national of a country designated for TPS, or a person without nationality who last habitually resided in the designated country. Secondly, the applicant must file during the open initial registration or open re-registration period. This information may be obtained on the USCIS website.
The applicant must establish continuous physical presence in the United States since the date of the most recent designation date. Third, the applicant must have continuously resided in the United States since the date specified for the applicant’s country. The specific dates for each designated country can be found on the USCIS website. For instance, applicants from Haiti must establish continuous physical presence since July 23, 2011, and continuous residence since January 12, 2011. There is an exception for brief, casual, and innocent departure from the United States. The physical presence requirements can be established with evidence such as the applicant’s passport, employment records, bills, and other evidence indicating the applicant was present at the time.
There are several bars to TPS. Applicants who were convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors in the United States are ineligible. In addition, TPS applicant cannot be subject to any of the mandatory bars to asylum, such as conviction of a “particularly serious crime,” assistance or participation in the persecution of others, or engagement in terrorist activity. Applicants with a criminal history should contact an immigration attorney to see how their record affects their eligibility for TPS.
How do I apply for Temporary Protected Status?
TPS may be applied for affirmatively with USCIS or defensively before an Immigration Judge or the Board of Immigration Appeals. To apply or re-register for TPS, the applicant/beneficiary must file BOTH Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status and Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization with supporting evidence.