What is Temporary Protected Status?

January 3, 2018 11:40 am
by David Jakeman

Say you’re currently in the United States when something catastrophic happens in your home country. Maybe a devastating earthquake hit. Perhaps civil war has broken out. Or there’s a major Ebola outbreak. At any rate, it’s a terrible time to head home because everything there is in shambles. In these kinds of situations, the United States has the option of allowing you to stay in the country until the trouble clears up back home. This is known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

Benefits of TPS

Although TPS is inherently unstable, it has significant benefits. You cannot be detained by immigration authorities because of your status, nor can you be removed from the United States. You are allowed to work after obtaining your Employment Authorization Document (EAD). And you might be allowed to travel internationally. These benefits last as long as you have TPS, which, for people from certain countries, has meant decades.

Who Qualifies for TPS?

People from struggling countries don’t automatically receive TPS. The Secretary of Homeland Security must first designate your particular country. Once your country has received TPS status, you can apply to stay in the US until things improve back home. Of course, you must meet the eligibility requirements:

  • You must be a national of a country with TPS, or, if you don’t have a nationality, you must show that the country in question is where you last habitually resided./li>
  • You must file your application during the initial eligibility period or during a re-registration period. If you miss the filing date, you may be able to file a late application if you can demonstrate your application was late for good cause, such as a pending immigration application or you legally became an adult./li>
  • You have been continuously physically present in the US since the most recent TPS designation date for your country./li>
  • You have been continuously residing in the US from a certain, country-specific date. The USCIS website lists the dates for each country.

Disqualification for TPS

Of course, there are also reasons why you might not be eligible for TPS, including a felony or multiple misdemeanor convictions, persecution of someone else, or involvement or incitement of terrorist activity. You also might be inadmissible. Or, you might have missed the filing deadlines for the initial registration or the re-registration.

Long-Term Uncertainty

One of the big criticisms of TPS is that it leaves people in limbo. They usually can’t adjust their status, and their immigration status is entirely subject to the whims of the government. Every six, twelve, or eighteen months, the Secretary of Homeland Security has to renew a country’s TPS and people have to re-register to maintain their status. This is a continual headache. Still, it’s worth the hassle to maintain a legal immigration status.

A number of countries currently have TPS: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen. However, several countries – Sudan, Haiti, and Nicaragua – have recently lost TPS, but they have transition windows to help ease the transition for people. The Department of Homeland Security also announced they would soon make a decision about whether or not to extend Honduras’ TPS designation anymore. These are changes that will potentially affect hundreds of thousands of people and could have a major impact on both the US and foreign economies.

If you are among those potentially affected by the policy changes, it would be wise to contact a qualified immigration lawyer to see what options you might have. If you live in the Sixth or Ninth Circuits, you may have a chance to adjust your status. The Sixth and Ninth Circuits include the states of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Washington, and Oregon. Immigration lawyers in these states will be able to help you know the best course of action for your personal situation.

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