Everything You Need to Know About Temporary Protected Status

What is TPS?

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a temporary immigration benefit given to nationals of a particular country due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning there safely, or where the country is not able to adequately handle the return of its nationals.

How does a country get TPS?

The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security makes the decision to designate a country for TPS. The Secretary may designate a country for TPS due to temporary conditions in the country, such as a civil war, epidemics or natural disasters, or other temporary extraordinary conditions.

What are the benefits of having TPS?

While you have TPS, you cannot be deported from the U.S., you can get a work card, and you may be granted travel authorization to leave the U.S. if needed. Also, while you have TPS, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) cannot detain you based on your immigration status.

Can you get a green card by having TPS?

TPS does not lead to lawful permanent residency (i.e. getting a green card), but if you qualify for a green card through a job or a family member, you might be able to apply to change your status. Each case is different so you should speak to an immigration lawyer to determine your options and eligibility.

How do you apply for TPS?

You apply for TPS by filling out Form 821: Application for Temporary Protected Status and submitting the applicable fees. Fee waivers are available if you cannot afford to pay the fees, however, if you apply for a fee waiver and it is denied, your TPS application will also be denied for lack of a fee. This can impact your ability to apply on time, so if you need to apply for a fee waiver, do so as early as possible.

What will happen if a country’s TPS status is terminated? Will those beneficiaries be immediately deported?

If a country’s TPS designation is terminated, those beneficiaries are usually given a transition period to either obtain another immigration status and/or to make arrangements to return to their home country. It is unlikely that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will immediately begin deporting those beneficiaries because many of them may have a defense to deportation, which they would need to argue in immigration court. The immigration court system is already very swamped, so trying to deport all of these immigrants will make the court system even more so. However, if a beneficiary has a criminal history, s/he may be targeted for deportation and should speak with an immigration lawyer to understand his/her options.

What countries have TPS?

The chart below shows which countries currently have TPS, when their designation expires, and when a decision will be made on whether to extend or terminate the designation (updated as of May 16, 2019).

COUNTRY               EXPIRATION DATE                    

El Salvador                   01/02/2020                                      

Haiti                              01/02/2020                                       

Honduras                      01/05/2020                                       

Nepal                            N/A                                      

Nicaragua                     01/02/2020                                      

Somalia                         03/17/2020                            

Sudan                            01/02/2020                                        

South Sudan                 11/02/2020                                

Syria                              09/30/2019                               

Yemen                           09/03/2020        

What options do TPS beneficiaries have if TPS is not renewed?

Options for TPS beneficiaries are on a case by case basis and should be discussed with an immigration attorney. However, one common benefit is to get a green card through a family member in the U.S. You may be able to get a green card if you are the immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, a family member of a U.S. citizen based on a preference category, or a family member of someone with a green card. There are other options available to get a green card through a family member, but these should be discussed with an immigration attorney.

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.

How do you get a green card if you have TPS?

There are a variety of ways to obtain a green card, but most TPS beneficiaries will likely attempt to get one through a family member. This post explains the process.

Click here for the October 31, 2018 Federal Register Notice on TPS extensions for Sudan, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Haiti.

You do not need to obtain a new work card in order to take advantage of the automatic extension, but if you would like a new work card, you’ll need to apply for one and pay the $495 fee (or request a fee waiver).

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