The following discusses issues relating to Temporary Protected Status. It does not constitute legal advice and addresses issues only generally. Each situation is different and requires a specific legal analysis.
TPS – Temporary Protected Status
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) sometimes provides temporary forms of immigration status for people in the U.S. One type of temporary status is TPS - Temporary Protected Status. There have been a lot of important changes to various TPS programs recently and there will be more changes in the future. Check the USCIS website for the most up to date information (WWW.USCIS.GOV) or contact CLA.
What is TPS?
USCIS can designate a foreign country for TPS due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country's nationals from returning safely. TPS is available to people who are already in the U.S. but can’t return to their home country. TPS has been designated after natural disasters, the outbreak of war or a severe political crisis.
How do I Apply for TPS?
Each time TPS is designated by USCIS, there are eligibility and filing rules for the particular country. Applicants usually have to prove that they were in the US as of a date specified by USCIS. There are also filing deadlines and expiration dates. It’s important to understand the rules for your particular country before applying.
After TPS is designated, eligible people can apply by filing USCIS Form I-821 and Form I-765 if they want to apply for work authorization. USCIS changes these forms frequently, so you need to check the USCIS website for the most up to date version of the forms before applying.
Caution for People with a Criminal History
Anyone who has a criminal history or has ever been arrested should consult with CLA or another experienced immigration lawyer before applying for TPS. You may not be eligible and it may put you at risk for deportation if you apply and get denied.
What Happens if I am Approved for TPS?
People who are granted TPS will be temporarily protected from removal or deportation from the U.S. and can receive work authorization.
How Long Does TPS Last?
TPS is granted for a specific period of time, usually between 1-2 years. After that time, USCIS decides whether the conditions giving rise to the initial designation still exist in the country or whether conditions have improved in the country. If TPS is renewed, people generally have to apply again to renew their status and get a new work authorization card. There have been instances where TPS has been in effect for many years, but renewal is never automatic. If TPS is not renewed, USCIS generally expects people to plan to return to their home country.
What is Happening Now with TPS?
USCIS can end TPS if it decides that the conditions in the designated country have changed. Recently, USCIS has announced important changes to TPS for several countries, including Nicaragua, Honduras, Sudan and Haiti. We expect that people from Nicaragua, Honduras and Haiti will be able to apply for one more renewal of TPS and work authorization, which USCIS says will be the last one. We are still waiting for details. Contact CLA or check the USCIS website: https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/temporary-protected-status for the most up to date information.
Can I Travel outside the U.S. if I have TPS?
TPS does not authorize people to travel outside the US. However, if you have TPS, you can separately apply for permission to leave and come back through advance parole. Leaving the U.S. is risky even for people who have advance parole. Anyone who was out of status in the U.S. before receiving TPS should consult with CLA or another experienced immigration attorney before applying for advance parole.
Will I Get a Green Card if I’ve Been Approved for TPS?
TPS does not lead to a green card. Anyone who has TPS should evaluate whether they have other immigration options that could lead to a green card, such as having a close relative who is already a U.S. Citizen or green card holder who can sponsor you. If you have questions, contact CLA for an evaluation of possible immigration options.