Humanitarian Protection: TPS

For some immigrants getting out of their home country and finding safe heaven in a country like the United States is literally a matter of life and death. The immigration laws offer help to such people, although the door is not as open as you might wish. One of the common ways people take shelter in the United States is through Temporary Protected Status (TPS) cover at length here.

First, let’s start with the question: Do you qualify for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is much what its name sounds like: It lets people who are from countries that are currently in turmoil, and therefore unsafe, apply to live in the U.S. with a work permit until conditions in their home country improve. For example, countries in the midst of civil war or that have recently experienced a huge natural disaster such as an earthquake may be put on the TPS list by the U.S. government. In creating this list, however, the government always puts an expiration date on each country’s TPS designation.

TPS does not help people currently living in the affected countries. You must be in the U.S. when TPS is established for your country in order to qualify, and you must submit an application to USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). When your country’s TPS designation runs out, so does your right to stay in the United States. (The U.S. government may, however, if the disaster continues, renew your country’s TPS designation, in which case you’ll typically need to re-register.) Is it very important to point out that TPS status does not lead to a green card.

TPS also does not help people who have either been convicted of a felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States; been found inadmissible on nonwaivable criminal and security related grounds; or who are subject to any of the mandatory bars to asylum (such as for having participated in the persecution of others or having engaged in or incited terrorist activity).

As of today’s date, TPS is available for citizens of El Salvador, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Liberia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Whenever a new country is named a notice will be published in the Federal Register, stating the time period for which the protection is granted (a minimum of six months and a maximum of 18 months), and the dates and procedures for registering.

Second, How can you apply for Temporary Protection Status?

Applying for TPS is a one-step process. You must fill out two forms (I-821 & I-765) and submit documents showing you really come from the country that you say you do (such as a copy of your passport or birth certificate) and that you have lived in the U.S. for the time required under the TPS rules for your particular country. Evidence of your stay in the U.S. could include copies of your passport and I-94 card, employment records, and school records.

In addition, applicants must pay an initial application fee, plus separate fees for biometrics (fingerprinting and photographs) and for work authorization. If you don’t plan to work and thus don’t need the EAD card, you need not pay the work authorization fee – but you still need to submit the work permit form. TPS applicants are subject to the grounds of inadmissibility (such as entering without inspection, persons who lied to immigration, individual subject to final removal (deportation) order, etc.), though some can be waived.

After you submit your application you will be sent an appointment to have your photos and fingerprints taken. After that, you may receive your Approval Notice in the mail, as well as a work permit (if you paid the fee for one). If USCIS cannot tell from your paperwork that you are eligible for TPS, it will schedule you for an interview.

Third, Can you travel outside the United States if you only have TPS?

TPS does not include rights to travel outside the United States. If you travel, your TPS will probably be canceled unless you receive permission before you leave, by applying for Advance Parole.

Currently USCIS is taking TPS re-registration applications from citizens of El Salvador and Syria. The re-registration period for El Salvador is from July 8, 2016 to September 6, 2016, and for Syria is from August 1, 2016 to September 30, 2016.

Particularly for citizens of El Salvador, TPS has been extended for 18 months by the Department of Homeland Security, this means that people will receive TPS status from September 6, 2016 to March 9, 2018.