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Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

What Is Temporary Protected Status?

Temporary protected status (TPS) is a designation assigned to aliens of a foreign country by the Secretary of Homeland Security. The purpose of TPS is to grant an exception to the usual deportation process for humanitarian reasons.

The TPS issued by the Secretary of Homeland Security is enforced by the U.S. Center for Immigration Services (USCIS). A TPS is usually declared because aliens from a nation either cannot be returned safely or are unable to be processed by their home country. Aliens from a TPS assigned country who were already in the U.S. may be eligible to qualify for TPS status according to the USCIS. Additionally, individuals with no legal nationality that last resided in a TPS country may also be eligible for TPS status.

The Secretary of Homeland Security has broad discretion over what qualifies as a danger to returning nationals worthy of a TPS, but in general, some common causes are:

  • Continuing armed conflict, including a civil war
  • Environmental disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes
  • An ongoing epidemic

A TPS may be temporarily authorized if these or any other “extraordinary and temporary conditions” are present.

Once a country is designated as having TPS, nationals from that country in the U.S. will have a window of opportunity to apply for TPS. There are several benefits to having TPS, including:

  • Protection from removal or deportation proceedings
  • The ability to gain an employment authorization document
  • Permission to apply for travel authorization

Additionally, TPS-protected nationals cannot be apprehended or detained based on their immigration status.

While a national with TPS is not a lawful permanent resident, they can file for adjustment of status, nonimmigrant status, or any other immigration protections they meet the eligibility requirements. TPS also does not impede an application for asylum, and a denial of refugee status does not affect the individual’s TPS.

Key Takeaways

  • Temporary protected status allows an alien to avoid deportation based on some temporary circumstances in their home nation.
  • The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a nation temporary protected status on the basis of an extreme natural disaster such as a hurricane or a violent political issue such as a civil war. 
  • Temporary protected status only applies to individuals already in the United States and must be applied for within strict timeframes.
  • If you are a national from a nation with temporary protected status and are facing deportation, an experienced Immigration Law attorney may be able to improve the outcome of your case by utilizing experience and expert knowledge.

TPS and Immigration Law

According to the USCIS, 15 nations or parts of nations have active TPS designations. Those nations are:

  • Afghanistan
  • Burma (Myanmar)
  • Cameroon
  • El Salvador
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Nepal
  • Nicaragua
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • South Sudan
  • Syria
  • Ukraine
  • Venezuela
  • Yemen

This USCIS list is updated regularly to inform a national whether they may be able to acquire TPS.

To qualify for TPS designation, four requirements must be met:

  1. The applicant is a national of a TPS country or has no nationality and last resided in the TPS country. 
  2. The applicant filed during the open initial registration or re-registration period.
  3. The applicant has been continuously physically present in the United States since the effective date of the most recent TPS designation date for their country.
  4. The applicant has been continuously residing in the U.S. since the date specified for the country. 

There are some allowances for absences that the USCIS deems “brief, casual, and innocent,” but they must be reported the next time an applicant re-registers for their TPS for judgment.

While TPS can be a life-changing designation for some aliens, it is not given to all members of the TPS nation living in the United States. Certain behaviors or circumstances can render an applicant ineligible for TPS status. 

Individuals who have their TPS status denied or revoked may have the following disqualifying traits:

  • The applicant has been convicted of a felony or at least two misdemeanors in the U.S.
  • The applicant is inadmissible under the Immigration and Nationality Act
  • The applicant is mandatorily barred from asylum for reasons including engaging in the persecution of others, inciting terrorism, or engaging in terroristic activities.
  • The applicant failed to meet either the continuous physical presence or continuous residence requirements.
  • The applicant failed to meet the initial or late initial TPS registration requirements.
  • The applicant did not re-register for TPS as required and did not provide a good cause for failing to do so.

Some limits, such as the inadmissibility for entry, can be bypassed. Inadmissibility for medical reasons can sometimes be ignored by a medical waiver, though criminal and security-related grounds for inadmissibility cannot be waived.

If an applicant misses the initial registration period, they can sometimes complete a late registration or re-registration. While this may come with additional conditions, late registration or re-registration can allow a foreign national to gain TPS protections.

Late initial registration is permissible under two broad categories. The first is children of individuals who were eligible for TPS protections. Any child who was under 21 at the time of an initial TPS registration period in which their parent was eligible may be able to file a late TPS application. According to the USCIS, there is no time limit for this condition, so all applicable children will be able to qualify for TPS status. 

The second late initial registration category is for individuals who meet certain conditions and register either while they still fulfill the terms or within 60 days of the termination or expiration of their condition. The requirements outlined by this category include:

  • Individuals granted voluntary departure status or relief from removal
  • Individuals with an application for change of status, adjustment of status, asylum, voluntary departure, or relief from removal that is pending subject to further review or appeal
  • Parolees or individuals with pending requests for re-parole
  • Spouses of individuals who are currently eligible for TPS

In any of these situations, an individual may be able to file a late initial registration application for TPS. In some cases, other groups may be specified in the country’s specific TPS order.

In addition to late initial registrations, the USCIS can also choose to recognize late re-registration for TPS. Late re-registration applications must be submitted alongside a letter that gives good cause for the reason for the late filing. Even if a late re-registration is accepted for good cause, an individual’s work authorization may be interrupted.

Bottom Line

If you are an immigrant looking to take advantage of the temporary protected status offered by your nationality, you will need the help of an experienced Immigration Law attorney. An Immigration Law attorney will be able to advise you and advocate on your behalf in order to get you the best possible outcome for your case.

Using their legal expertise, trial tactics, and expert witnesses, your Immigration Law attorney can explore your alternative options to deportation as well as present your case in the most compelling light possible and deftly navigate the complex processes of immigration bureaucracy as well as the obscure functions of immigration court.

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