Temporary Protected Status
Congress created Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in the Immigration Act of 1990. It is a temporary immigration status that allows migrants whose home countries are unsafe the ability to live and work in the United States for a temporary, but extendable, period. Within this time, TPS holders are eligible for employment and travel, as well as protected from deportation. This does not create a direct path to permanent residency or citizenship. However, TPS holders can apply for those categories separately.
The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a country as TPS for reasons such as ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, an epidemic, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions which may endanger the lives of the country's nationals. As of August 1, 2022, the countries currently designated for TPS include:
- Burma (Myanmar)
- El Salvador
- Nepal (Read more)
- South Sudan
To qualify for TPS, an individual must:
- Be a national of the country with a TPS designation or if you are not a national of the country, have habitually resided there
- Have been continuously physically present in the United States since the most recent designation date of the country
- Have been continuously residing in the United States since the date specified for the country
- File during the open initial registration, re-registration period, or meet the requirements for late initial filing during any extension of the country's TPS designation
An individual will not qualify for TPS or continue to qualify for TPS if they:
- Have been convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors in the United States
- Are subject to any of the mandatory bars to asylum such as participating in the persecution of another person or engaging in terrorism
- Are found inadmissible under criminal and security related grounds
- Fail to meet the continuous physical presence and continual residence requirements
- Fail to meet the initial or late initial registration requirements
During a designated period, TPS beneficiaries:
- Are not removable from the United States
- Are able to obtain an employment authorization document (EAD)
- May be granted travel authorization
- Cannot be detained by the Department of Homeland Security based on their immigration status
To register or re-register for TPS, you must file Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status. You may also request an employment authorization document (EAD) by submitting Form I-765, Request for Employment Authorization. If you are aware that a ground of inadmissibility applies to you and you need a waiver to receive TPS, include Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility, with your other TPS forms.
There are three categories of evidence that must be submitted with your TPS application. Identity and Nationality Evidence must show you are a national of a country designated for TPS or if you are not a national, that you have habitually resided there. Data of Entry Evidence must prove when you entered the United States. Lastly, Continuous Residence (CR) Evidence must demonstrate that you have been in the United States since the CR date specified for your country by the USCIS.
TPS is a temporary status which does not lead to lawful permanent resident status or any other immigration benefit. However, you may separately apply for nonimmigrant status, file for adjustment of status, or apply for any other immigration benefit for which you may be eligible. To be granted any other immigration status, you must meet all the requirements for that specific benefit.
On July 1, 2022, USCIS rescinded its designation of the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) decision in Matter of Z-R-Z-C. New policy guidance put forth by USCIS includes two main benefits for TPS holders.
Firstly, USCIS will no longer grant advance parole documents to TPS holders. Instead, TPS beneficiaries will be issued a new travel authorization document, Form I-512T, Authorization for Travel by a Noncitizen to the United States.
Secondly, TPS beneficiaries who use this travel document when having been admitted back into the U.S. following travel will now satisfy the “inspected and admitted” requirement necessary to apply for adjustment of status. This will hold true even if the TPS beneficiary's initial entry into the U.S. was without inspection/admission or by any other lawful means. This new policy allows TPS holders to apply for lawful permanent resident status if they meet the eligibility requirements for the specific status which they are applying to.