Temporary Protected Status or TPS is term in Immigration Law pertaining to a special status given to nationals of certain countries that are residing in the United States. TPS status is designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security and is based on the conditions of a country. Generally, when conditions of a certain country prevent nationals from being able to return to their home country safely, or in limited circumstances when a country is unable to handle the return of its nationals, a country may be designated as TPS. Examples of such conditions that may warrant a designation of TPS may include an environmental disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane, armed conflict or other extraordinary conditions. Once a country is designated as TPS, USCIS is able to grant status to nationals of that country.
COUNTRIES CURRENTLY DESIGNATED AS TPS
Currently, the countries designated as TPS include El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Guinea, Liberia and Syria. Most recently as of June 24, 2015 Nepal was added to the list of designated countries.
HOW AND WHEN TO APPLY FOR TPS
Whether someone is able to apply for TPS depends on their home country’s date of designation. Each designated country has a specific date of initial designation and an enrollment period in which initial applicants must apply. There is also a re-registration period each year during which initial applicants are able to renew their application as long as their country’s TPS designation has been renewed as well. Applicants that miss the initial enrollment period or re-registration period may apply late under certain limited circumstances. Potential applicants may visit uscis.gov for additional information on filing periods. However, it is recommended that potential applicants contact an attorney for any questions or concerns, as the application process is an intricate one in which various requirements must be met.
REQUIREMENTS FOR TPS APPLICANTS
The specific requirements for potential TPS applicants also vary by their country of nationality. However, each applicant must prove that they are a citizen or national of a designated country, that they have been physically present in the United States since the date of designation for their country and have resided continuously in the United States since the date specified for their country. A brief, casual and innocent departure from the United States is an exception to the physical presence and continuance residence requirements. An applicant’s criminal record may also preclude them from applying or renewing their TPS application. If you have a criminal records or any concerns about meeting the requirements for TPS you should contact an attorney.
BENEFITS OF TPS
Applicants that are granted TPS receive certain benefits. Primarily, TPS recipients are not removable from the United States. Additionally, TPS recipients are able to apply for a work authorization. TPS recipients may also apply for a travel authorization that will allow them to travel outside the United States for a limited time. TPS is a temporary benefit and does not lead to Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) status or Citizenship. However, it does not preclude a person from applying for such status if otherwise eligible.