TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS
Temporary Protected Status (known as TPS) is a form of temporary, humanitarian relief that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) authorizes for citizens of countries whose living conditions are intolerable, either due to a political situation or a natural disaster.
TPS is authorized only for certain countries, and only citizens of those countries listed are eligible provided they were already in the United States on the date it was originally designated by the DHS Secretary and the individual applied within the prescribed time period. Very few exceptions apply to this rule, but we will discuss these below.
Currently, DHS has designated TPS for citizens of the following countries:
- South Sudan
- El Salvador
The designation period is usually one year to 18 months, but most of the countries listed above have had their designation renewed year after year. Many of these countries have had TPS designation for more than 10 years because the situation there is still intolerable notwithstanding relief efforts (such as after a devastating earthquake).
Personal Eligibility Criteria
To be eligible for TPS, a foreign national must demonstrate that he or she:
- Is a national of a designated country.
- Has not been convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors in the United States.
- Is not subject to any of the mandatory bars to asylum for being a persecutor or member of a terrorist group.
- Filed an application during the initial registration period, or that he meets an exception for late initial registration.
- Has been physically present and residing in the United States continuously since the most recent designation of the country for TPS, with only brief, casual, and innocent departures from the United States.
- Has not committed any crimes that would render the individual inadmissible and ineligible for other immigration waivers.
Applicants for TPS must submit an I-821 application to USCIS, along with an I-765 application for an Employment Authorization Document with the appropriate filing fees. The applicant will have their fingerprints taken for a background check. In most cases, there is no live interview with a USCIS officer, and the approval notice and work authorization card will be delivered by mail. If the application is denied and the applicant is placed in removal proceedings, he or she has the right to a review of the denial by an immigration judge.
TPS allows a foreign national to remain in the country lawfully once it is approved by DHS. The foreign national is issued a work authorization card that is valid during the designation period and renewable each year. He or she is authorized to work in the United States and maybe able to get a driver’s license (depending on state law, but most states allow it because it is a legal status).
TPS can be granted even if a person has a deportation order, and if granted, it can stop the removal process. TPS can also be approved if the person is inadmissible, though for some grounds of inadmissibility, a waiver is required.
If you are a citizen of one of the designated countries above and need to file for your TPS, call our office today to start your application. Our immigration lawyers will determine the best strategy in your case and counsel you on any other immigration-related relief you or your family may be eligible for due to the extreme conditions in your native country.