Temporary Protected Status (TPS): What is it and Who’s Eligible?

On August 14, 2018  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that current beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) from Yemen who want to maintain their status through the extension date of March 3, 2020, must re-register between August 14, 2018, and October  15, 2018.  Re-registration procedures, including forms and instructions on how to renew employment authorization documents (EADs), are available at www.uscis.gov/tps.   USCIS will issue new EADs with a March 3, 2020, expiration date to eligible Yemen TPS beneficiaries who timely re-register and apply for EADs. Given the timeframes involved with processing TPS re-registration applications, however, the government  recognizes that not all re-registrants will receive new EADs before their current EADs expire on Sept. 3, 2018. Accordingly, USCIS has automatically extended the validity of EADs for 180 days, through March 2, 2019.

This raises the question:  What is Temporary Protected Status, or TPS?  Under U.S. immigration law, the Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a foreign country for TPS due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately. USCIS may grant TPS to eligible nationals of certain countries (or parts of countries), who are already in the United States.  Eligible individuals without nationality who last resided in the designated country may also be granted TPS.

Some of the conditions that may give rise to a TPS designation include: 

  • Ongoing armed conflict, such as the civil war in Syria; 
  • An environmental disaster, such as the earthquake in Haiti or the hurricane in Honduras; or 
  • an epidemic or other extraordinary condition. 

During a designated period, individuals who are TPS beneficiaries enjoy the following benefits:

  • They are not removable (deportable) from the United States;
  • They can obtain an employment authorization document (EAD);
  • They may be granted travel authorization; and
  • Once granted TPS, an individual also cannot be detained by DHS on the basis of his or her immigration status in the United States.

It’s important to remember that TPS is a temporary benefit, a reprieve from having to return to one’s home country until conditions there improve.    It does not make someone eligible for a green card or bestow any other immigration status.  But also, registration for TPS does not prevent someone from applying for some kind of immigration  status, such as an F-1 student visa, or filing for adjustment of status based on an immigrant petition.   So, if someone is present in the US on TPS and marries a US citizen, then the TPS beneficiary may be able to adjust status to permanent resident.  However, as with all immigration benefits, one must still meet all the eligibility requirements for that particular benefit.   A grant of TPS does not, for instance, render someone eligible for a green card if he entered the United States illegally or who is ineligible for adjustment of status on the basis of fraud or some criminal matter.  

Nationals from the following countries have been designated eligible  for TPS:

  • El Salvador
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Nepal
  • Nicaragua
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • South Sudan
  • Syria
  • Yemen

Precise filing deadlines and other issues pertain to each of these countries, so if you believe you may be eligible for TPS it’s important to confirm what specific rules apply to your own country.  For example, Honduras’s TPS designation is set to expire on January 5, 2020, whereas, as noted above, TPS for Yemen will remain in effect until such time as USCIS determines that temporary conditions that support Yemen’s current designation for TPS no longer exist.

If you or a loved one believe you may be eligible for TPS designation based on your citizenship of one of the above countries, contact the Law Office of Gregory J. Eck, LLC to learn more. 

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