Who Qualifies For Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in the U.S.?

Learn about the eligibility criteria for claiming temporary protection within the U.S.

Temporary Protected Status, or “TPS” as it is more commonly referred to, is a temporary immigration status awarded to people who happen to be in the United States during a period when their home country becomes unsafe for return. Individual immigrants can apply for TPS only after their country (or region of their country) is placed on the TPS list by the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security.

In most cases, TPS-designated countries/areas are deemed so because of an armed conflict, civil war, natural disaster, or environmental disaster. For example, in recent years, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, and Sudan have been on the TPS list.

TPS status does not help people living in the affected countries to come to the United States. You must have already been here – whether legally or illegally – for a certain period of time in order to qualify.

What Rights Come With TPS

You won’t be awarded TPS automatically, but will need to apply for it. Once you are approved, you will gain the right to remain in the United States during a designated period, and to work. The length of the TPS time period will be between six and 18 months.

However, realize that this is only a temporary status. Although you may end up staying in the United States for a long time with TPS, having TPS does not itself lead directly to getting a green card (U.S. permanent residence).

If, however, your circumstances change and you become eligible for a green card in some other way – for example, by marrying a U.S. citizen – having had TPS will probably be valuable in reducing the amount of time that you spent in the United States illegally. (An illegal U.S. stay can bar you from getting a green card for many years.)

How to Tell Whether You’re Eligible for TPS

Keep an eye on the news, and check the USCIS TPS list kept on its website.

If you have TPS and it’s going to run out soon, this website will also tell you whether the designation has been renewed.

How to Apply for TPS and Employment Authorization

When applying for TPS for the first time, you will be asked to fill out USCIS Forms I-821 (the TPS application) and I-765 (a work permit application). In addition, you’ll need to provide proof of your identity, nationality, date of entry into the United States, and your presence in the United States during a particular time period.

You’ll also need to pay processing fees for the applications and, if you’re age 14 or older, a biometrics (fingerprinting and photographs) fee.

If you do not wish apply for work authorization, you will still need to fill out Form I-765, but do not need to pay the processing fee.

How to Re-Register for TPS

At the end of a TPS term, each country’s designation is reviewed. If the circumstances that justified temporary protective status are still in effect, an extension may be granted. If that happens, you’ll need to resubmit both a TPS application and an employment authorization form, but most likely won’t need to attach the various documents that you did for your initial application.

If your country’s designation is not extended, you will be expected to leave the United States within a certain amount of time.

If You Are Denied for TPS

If you are denied for TPS, you may appeal this decision. However, the fees for an appeal are high, and if you’re submitting the same documents as before, USCIS is unlikely to grant your appeal. This is a situation in which you should consult an experienced immigration attorney.

Getting Help

The assistance of an experienced U.S. immigration attorney can go a long way towards helping to ensure your TPS status request is approved the first time around. Your attorney can assist you in ensuring that you truly qualify for TPS and that you submit a complete, strong application for temporary protected status.

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