TPS stands for Temporary Protected Status which is a temporary immigration status provided to foreign nationals when the foreign State is experiencing problems that make it difficult or unsafe for their nationals to be deported there. It has remained as a lifeline to millions of individuals already in the United States when those foreign nationals had problems in a home country which makes their departure or deportation untenable.
What is TPS and Why It is granted?
Temporary Protected Status is a form of temporary immigration status provided as humanitarian relief to foreign nationals from designated countries facing ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster, or other extraordinary conditions preventing their safe return. It is granted to eligible nationals of a country designated for under the INA.
The Congress first established the life-saving Immigration Act of 1990 and provided a work permit and stay of deportation to foreign nationals from the designated countries. The nationals of a country who were in the United States at the time the U.S. government grants a designation to the country can get TPS to stay and work in the US. The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security grants the TPS designations and is subject to a review which can be extended up to 18 months at a time.
Before President Trump’s administration, other administration regularly renewed designations for many of the countries protected as of January 2017. At the present time, over 4,37,000 individuals with TPS are living and working in the United States. And if the US-born children are also counted of TPS individual’s, they have more than 2,70,000 U.S. born children who are legal US citizen.
It is granted to the individual of those countries which are currently facing conflicts, terrorism, disasters, civil war, violent crime, gender and s@xual orientation-based violence, r@pe, torture, drought, and state-sanctioned executions. These designated countries remain dangerously unsettled due to the problems that the country might be facing.
Americans who wish to travel to these designated countries are warned by the US State Department for traveling against these nations. Mostly the countries which are currently granted TPS have received a level 4 travel advisory warning, which is the highest level possible warning to travel for US citizens by the US government.
Why TPS is important?
Temporary Protected Status program provided by the US has been able to provide better protection to individuals of designated countries. It has protected some of the most vulnerable human beings in the world for the following reasons:
- TPS protected individuals from returning individuals to their countries where there is ongoing armed conflict, such as a civil war, state-sanctioned executions, torture, violence, etc that poses a serious threat to the safety to returning nationals.
- An environmental disaster such as an earthquake, hurricane, epidemic, droughts which results in a substantial but temporary disruption of safety and living conditions. And if the individual’s country is temporarily unable to handle the return of its nationals.
- Temporary or extraordinary conditions in the foreign countries due to which the individual of those nations are prevented from returning to their nations (Unless the U.S. government finds contrary to the US national interest in permitting these nationals to remain temporarily in the United States).
Who is Eligible For TPS?
It is granted to the people of those countries that have been designated an eligible country for TPS and, furthermore, they must meet the following other requirements:
- First of all, the individual needs to be a national of a country designated for TPS or can be a person without nationality but he/she must have last habitually resided in the TPS designated country.
- Individuals should file during the open initial registration or re-registration period, or you meet the requirements for late initial filing during any extension of your country’s TPS designation.
- The Nationals should have been continuously physically present in the United States since the effective date of the most recent designation date of their country.
- And also have been continuously residing in the United States since the date specified for their country.
However, the law may allow some exceptions to the continuous physical presence and continuous residence requirements for brief, casual and innocent departures from the United States. While applying for re-register for TPS, individuals must have to inform USCIS of all absences from the United States since the Continuous Physical Presence and Continuous Residence dates. USCIS will determine whether the exception applies or not in those cases.
What makes you ineligible for TPS?
You might not be eligible for maintaining your existing TPS or to have it if you have not followed any of these rules of US government:
- Convicted in any felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States may make you ineligible.
- if as an immigrant, you are found inadmissible under applicable grounds such as non-waivable criminal and security-related grounds INA section 212(a).
- if you are subject to any of the mandatory bars to asylum. Which includes but not limited to, inciting or engaging in terrorist activity or in the persecution of another individual.
- if you have not been continuously physically present and continuously residing in the United States.
- if you couldn’t file during initial or late initial TPS registration or to re-register for TPS.
What Relief Are TPS Holders Eligible For?
When an individual is granted a TPS when finding eligible or who are found preliminarily eligible for TPS upon initial review of their cases, may not be removed from the US. And they can obtain an employment authorization document (EAD) and may be granted travel authorization.
After the individual is granted TPS, DHS may not detain them based on their immigration status. TPS gives a temporary benefit to stay and work in the US for foreign nationals but it does not lead to lawful permanent resident status or citizenship.
However, it does not mean that they cannot apply for nonimmigrant status filing. They can file for adjustment of status based on an immigrant petition, or file for any other immigration protection or benefit, which they might be eligible.
The TPS beneficiaries are eligible to remain in the United States and may not be removed during the designation period. They are also authorized to obtain EAD as long as they meet the requirements of TPS. It’s beneficiaries can also get travel authorization.
What happens when TPS is expired or terminated?
When the TPS of a country is terminated, TPS beneficiaries will return to one of the following:
- To the previous immigration status or category that they maintained before TPS unless that status or category has not been expired or terminated.
- To any other lawfully obtained immigration status or category they received during the registered period for TPS, as long as it is still valid on the date TPS terminates.
- Or the foreign nationals whose TPS has terminated or expired will have to leave the United States
Which countries have TPS?
As of July 2019, the following countries were designated for TPS and the designation had not expired or have been extended:
El Salvador *: Extended until January 2, 2020
Haiti *: Extended until January 2, 2020
Honduras *: Termination was scheduled to be effective January 5, 2020, but is on hold
Nepal *: Termination was scheduled to be effective June 24, 2019, but is on hold; employment authorization is auto-extended through March 24, 2020
Nicaragua: Extended until January 2, 2020
Somalia: Extended until March 17, 2020
South Sudan: Extended until November 2, 2020
Sudan: Extended until January 2, 2020
Syria: Extended until September 30, 2019
Yemen: Extended until March 3, 2020
Countries with (*) had TPS terminated by DHS, but will not go into effect until further notice, contingent upon rulings in at least two lawsuits, including Bhattarai v. Nielsen (for Honduras and Nepal) and Ramos v. Nielsen (for El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan).
Why was Nepal designated for TPS?
Nepal was designated for TPS after the devastating earthquake of 7.8 magnitudes struck Nepal on April 25, 2015. The country was granted TPS by the US government on June 24, 2015. After the 7.8 magnitude earthquake, a significant number of aftershocks were followed.
More than 8 million people were immediately affected by the devastating earthquake, which is more than a quarter of Nepal’s total population. In the devastating earthquake, about 9,000 people died and 22,000 people were injured. More than 755,000 homes were damaged and destroyed by the devastating earthquake in Nepal.
The TPS for Nepal was extended by the US government on December 26, 2016, to June 24, 2018. Like most homes, health centers, schools, and other buildings had not been reconstructed in Nepal, the US government had warranted an expansion of TPS for Nepalese people. In addition to the aftermath of the earthquake, other serious intervening factors such as blockade, bureaucratic issues in dispersing aid, civil unrest, political issues, etc factors were cause to slow down of rebuilding process.
As a result of the slow reconstruction process, there remains a dire humanitarian situation. Especially those people residing in the districts were devastated by the earthquake as well as rural and hard-to-access area’s people.
Due to the unavailability of roads and other infrastructure after the earthquake, It prevented the huge population of Nepalese people from accessing adequate food, clean water, medicine, and other basic needs.
The U.S. government extended the TPS expiration dates because the construction works were yet likely not be to begin until 2017 in Nepal due to an earthquake.
How long is TPS designation?
Normally, a foreign national can get TPS designations for 6, 12, or 18 months at a time. The Secretary must decide whether to extend or terminate a designation based on the conditions in the foreign country. And the decision should be made by the Secretary 60 days before the expiration of TPS.
If the US government doesn’t provide extension or termination decision and if it is not published at least 60 days in advance of expiration, the designation is automatically extended for six months. The term “temporary” limit the amount of time for which a country can have a TPS designation is limited due to the term temporary.
How long will I get a work permit with TPS?
If any foreign nationals are granted TPS, then they also have the opportunity to receive a work permit. The work permit is known as an employment authorization document or EAD. Generally, work permit for individual expires on the same date as their TPS status.
However, for certain countries, the USCIS frequently issues an automatic extension of EADs in connection with announcing a renewal of TPS. In this way, the government gives itself enough time to deal with the flood of EAD applications before everyone’s right to work runs out.
TPS designated need to show their employers, both expired work permit card and a copy of the notice provided in the Federal Register, which is basically a daily newspaper of the U.S. government. The renewal announcement will be within a few months before your EAD expires.
If I am granted TPS, then am I eligible to apply for a green card or not?
No, TPS is a temporary immigration status for those people who are temporarily living in the US. And to protect those individuals from having to return to an actively dangerous situation in their home country.
Though due to TPS beneficiary you were allowed to live and work legally in the United States for many years. There is no route to permanent residence ie. a green card in the US through TPS that will follow simply from a grant of TPS.
However, on some other basis you may be eligible to, or later become eligible for a green card. For example, if you get married to a U.S. citizen, or would get a job offer and sponsorship by a U.S. employer, or a grant of asylum.
Can TPS designated apply for another immigration benefit along with TPS or even after the TPS application is approved?
Yes, you can apply for other immigration benefits along with TPS. You should try for a more lasting and established form of immigration relief, such as asylum, a green card through marriage or another family relationship to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, or even a green card through the diversity visa lottery (DV), then you can stay in the US.