Created in 1990, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is an immigration benefit given to foreign nationals of a particular country due to conditions in their home country that prevent them from returning there safely (such as civil war, or natural disasters); or where the country is not able to adequately handle the return of its nationals. This status provides certain benefits, such as protection from deportation, the grant of employment authorization, and protection from being detained based on one’s immigration status.
TPS has been in the news a lot this year because this benefit is set to expire for many beneficiaries from various countries. Most recently, the Department of Homeland Security ended TPS for Nicaragua and Sudan; and a decision is pending for about 60,000 Haitian immigrants living in the United States. There are over 300,000 TPS holders living in the United States. Many of these immigrants have been living in the United States for decades. They have worked lawfully and paid taxes; they have started families and raised an estimated 273,000 American-born children; they have started businesses and continue to make positive contributions to this country. This Administration’s stance on immigrants and the immigration system threatens to upend their lives.
Nonetheless, TPS beneficiaries still have options to consider. One of those options is obtaining lawful permanent resident status (aka a green card) via a qualified family member. United States citizens are able to petition for lawful permanent resident status for their spouses, parents, and children. Lawful permanent residents are able to petition for their spouses and children. TPS beneficiaries might also be able to obtain lawful permanent resident status through an employer. Someone with TPS who believes they may qualify for lawful permanent resident status through either a family member or through an employer should speak to an immigration lawyer before attempting to apply for this status because TPS may present some challenges in this process.
TPS beneficiaries might also qualify for a U Visa, which, if granted, could lead to obtaining lawful permanent resident status. This visa is given to victims of certain crimes who cooperate with law enforcement or government agencies to prosecute or investigate the crime.
Last, but not least, TPS beneficiaries who find themselves in removal proceedings (aka Immigration Court for deportation from the United States) may have defenses to deportation, such as Cancellation of Removal, Withholding of Removal, or applying for Asylum if certain conditions exist. It is unlikely that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will immediately begin to deport these beneficiaries because a case would need to be commenced in Immigration Court; and there are currently over 600,000 pending immigration cases. However, if a beneficiary has a criminal history, s/he may be targeted for deportation and should speak to an immigration attorney to understand his/her situation.
Regardless of the fate of the TPS program, current beneficiaries should be proactive and speak to an immigration attorney to discuss their options.
If you have any questions about your status and immigration options, please call us.