Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

Overview

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a temporary U.S. immigration status established by a bipartisan act of Congress (the Immigration Act of 1990) and granted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to eligible residents of countries undergoing an environmental disaster, armed conflict, or extreme conditions. TPS holders are issued a work permit and protections from deportation for 6, 12 or 18 months at a time, and TPS can be extended within 60 days of expiration by the Secretary of Homeland Security based on current conditions of the country in question.

The following countries currently have TPS designation**:

  • El Salvador (Expires: January 2, 2020)
  • Guinea (EXPIRED: May 21, 2017)
  • Haiti (Expires: January 2, 2020)
  • Honduras (Currently expires January 5, 2020 but around November 21, 2019 DHS will announce a nine-month automatic extension of protections until October 5, 2020 if the Ramos order*** is still in effect)
  • Liberia* (See below)
  • Nepal (Currently expires June 24, 2019 but around May 10, 2019 DHS will announce a nine-month automatic extension of protections until March 24, 2020 if the Ramos order *** is still in effect)
  • Nicaragua (Expires: January 2, 2020)
  • Sierra Leone (EXPIRED: May 21, 2017)
  • Somalia (Expires: March 17, 2020)
  • South Sudan (Expires: November 2, 2020)
  • Sudan (Expires: January 2, 2020)
  • Syria (Expires: September 30, 2019)
  • Yemen (Expires: March 3, 2020)

*Liberia has been granted Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) protections which will end March 30, 2020
**These are subject to change. Please check USCIS’s website and CLINIC’S chart frequently for updates.
***Read more about the Ramos order and Ramos v. Nielsen below

TPS Litigation and Developments

Unfortunately, the Trump Administration and DHS terminated TPS for Nepal, Honduras, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan. However, due to successful lawsuits from TPS holders, the Administration has been forced to extend TPS for El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan. TPS was also extended for Syria, Yemen and Somalia but none of those countries were redesignated, meaning that people arriving more recently from these countries who do not already have TPS are not eligible to apply despite ongoing conflict in their home countries.

In October 2018, a federal district judge in California temporarily postponed the Trump Administration’s termination of TPS protections for immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan. TPS for those countries was set to expire fall of 2018, but now DHS has announced an extension of TPS until January 2, 2020. Thus, the current expiration dates for El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan are:

  • El Salvador: expires January 2, 2020
  • Haiti: expires January 2, 2020
  • Nicaragua: expires January 2, 2020
  • Sudan: expires January 2, 2020

As a reminder, this is only a temporary delay for El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan until the judge issues a final ruling on the lawsuit challenging the Administration’s decision to eliminate these protections.

It is important, in these uncertain times, for those eligible to re-register for TPS to do so as soon as possible. You can find a step-by-step re-registration guide here. In the meantime, advocates will continue to push Congress to use their power to find a permanent solution for all TPS holders, whether they are covered by the injunction or not.

TPS Re-Registration and Work Authorization Guide

Each time TPS is terminated or extended for a designated country, TPS holders from that country are required to re-register if they wish to maintain TPS status. Typically, in addition to re-registering, TPS holders must reapply for Employment Authorization Documents, or EADs, to continue working legally in the United States until their TPS expires.

First, check if the re-registration window is currently open for TPS for your country by visiting USCIS’ TPS page here, and selecting your country from the left hand side of the page for guidance.

At this time, re-registration periods for all TPS countries have closed. However, if you have not re-registered and TPS is still active for your country, follow these steps to re-register:

  1. Find your previous registration or re-registration application and use it as a guide as you complete your new application. You can check to make sure that the information on your new application is consistent with the information you submitted in your previous application.
  2. Make sure to download the correct forms directly from USCIS. You can download them here. IMPORTANT: if a form is out of date or old, USCIS will not accept it and your application will be rejected.

You will need to download and complete the following forms. Make sure to read the list of requirements for each form on the USCIS page to ensure you are not leaving out any required supporting documents or materials:

  • Form I-821: Application for Temporary Protected Status
  • Form I-765: Application for Employment Authorization. Description: this is the application to receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to work legally in the U.S., which is available to all individuals approved for TPS. Please note that this form must include two passport-sized photos with the applicant’s name, A-Number, and form number written on the back of each photo and paper clipped to the I-765 form.
  • Form I-912: Request for Fee Waiver. Description: fee waivers are available to some individuals for certain immigration services and forms based on a demonstrated inability to pay (financial need).
  • Form I-131: Application for Travel Document. Description: this is the application for something called advance parole, which enables the recipient to travel outside of the U.S. Please note that this form must include two passport-sized photos with the applicant’s name, A-Number, and form number written on the back of each photo and paper clipped to the I-131 form.
  • Form I-601: Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility. Description: When you apply, if you are aware that a relevant ground of inadmissibility applies to you and you need a waiver to obtain TPS, please fill out this form. However, once you have had a I-601 form approved by USCIS and received a waiver of inadmissibility, you do not need to file a new Form I-601 for any future TPS applications. USCIS may grant a waiver of certain inadmissibility grounds for humanitarian purposes, to assure family unity, or when it is in the public interest. Please note that this form must be submitted along with a $930 filing fee.
  • A letter explaining in detail why you are filing late. The letter must show “good cause” for late filing – in other words, you must have a good reason. Reasons can include but are not limited to: an emergency situation that prevented you from filing on time, reasonable confusion caused by pending litigation, or confusion caused by DHS announcements of termination or extension of TPS for your country. Explain how these affected you, including how they impacted your ability to re-register on time.

*If you file your TPS re-registration application late, processing may be delayed and can lead to gaps in your work authorization.

3. Accurately fill out all forms. Remember to read all instructions on the forms thoroughly, and to double check your responses with the responses you included in your previous registration or re-registration application so that the information is consistent. It is recommended that you fill out the forms digitally to make sure all information is readable. If you are filling them out by hand, make sure you write clearly with a black pen.

4. Create a cover letter that includes a checklist of the items and documents in the submission to help the USCIS agent easily see what they are about to review.

5. Purchase your money order. You can purchase one at your local U.S. Post Office. USCIS does not accept cash. The money order must be made out to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security” (do not use abbreviations like “DHS”).

If the application is for someone 15 years or older, the money order should be for $495. This covers the Employment Authorization Application (Form I-765) filing fee ($410) and biometrics fee ($85). Applicants 14 years and younger do not need biometrics done, so their money order should be for just $410.

If you are also applying for a waiver of grounds of inadmissibility (form I-601), you must also include a money order for $930, the filing fee for that form.

6. Package and send your application. We recommend that your application packet be in the following order to make it easier for review:

  • $495 Money Order ($410 for applicants 14 years and younger)
  • Cover Letter
  • Completed Form I-821
  • Letter explaining your reason for a late re-registration
  • Completed Form I-765.The form should include two passport size photographs. You can paper clip the photos to the correct form. Make sure to write the applicant’s name, Alien Registration Number (A-Number), and form number on the back of each photo.
  • Other completed forms as relevant to your case (e.g. Form I-601, Form I-912, Form I-131)
  • Copies of any supporting evidence: remember, more is more. Include as much documentation of your immigration history as possible.
    • A copy of your last EAD (if possible, include copies of all EADs you have received over the years)
    • Past TPS approval notices
    • Evidence to prove your identity and nationality, such as passports and birth certificates
    • Evidence to prove your date of entry into the United States
    • Evidence to prove your residence in the United States
    • Court disposition records (if you were ever arrested, charged, or convicted for a criminal offense)
    • Other documentation of your immigration proceedings

Tip: Do not staple your application together. This makes it harder for the review process and your application could even be rejected by USCIS. Instead use paper clips.

After reviewing and double-checking your application for accuracy, you are ready to mail it to USCIS for processing. The mail-to address depends on the country you are from which has received TPS designation.

You can check on the USCIS site here for where to mail the application. Once on the site, on the left hand side under TPS, select your country. Once on the landing site for your selected country, scroll down to “Where to File” and click the section open to see the correct mailing address to send your application to.

Tip: We advise that you mail using priority shipping that includes a tracking number. The USPS’ Priority Mail flat-rate envelopes are perfect for this.

TPS Expiration

If your TPS expires and you are not eligible to re-register, you will return to your prior immigration status before you obtained TPS. For example, if you entered the U.S. without inspection and are not eligible for another form of immigration relief, then you may return to an undocumented status and become subject to removal. You should consult an immigration attorney, legal services organization, or DOJ-accredited representative for guidance and closer examination of your case to see if you qualify for another form of relief. You can find an organization near you that can help with this.

If your TPS expires and you are eligible to re-register, DHS may automatically extend your current EAD to accommodate the time it takes to submit and process your re-registration application. We advise re-registering as soon as the re-registration window for your country opens.

Whether you qualify for another form of immigration relief or not, you should construct a family preparedness plan to prepare for various scenarios. You can find guides here. You can also practice knowing your rights and teaching your family their rights, too. You can find videos and guides here.

Your work permit is valid until the expiration date listed on the employment authorization document. If your TPS expires but you are eligible to re-register, DHS may automatically extend your current EAD to accommodate the time it takes to submit and process your re-registration application.

If TPS for your country has been terminated and you are not eligible to renew, you will be unable to renew your work permit under TPS.

You may be eligible for another form of immigration relief if you have or used to have TPS. You should consult with an organization, immigration attorney, or DOJ-accredited representative to review your case, as each individual’s case is unique and there can be many options. You can find an organization near you that can help with this. You can also use the Immi tool to check if you’re eligible for other forms of immigration relief.

A U.S. citizens’ status is not impacted if their parent’s TPS expires. However, they may be emotionally or financially impacted if a parent is forced to leave the U.S. If you or a family member have TPS it is a good idea to make a family plan that includes travel, financial, and custody arrangements for your children, in case you need to relocate or navigate other circumstances. You can find family preparedness planning guides here. Making a plan will help you and your loved ones feel more prepared and secure, no matter what happens.

If you have Facebook and are looking for a simple resource, Working Families United has created a helpful tool with information on countries with past or current TPS designations.

The following countries currently have TPS designation**:

  • El Salvador (Expires: January 2, 2020)
  • Guinea (EXPIRED: May 21, 2017)
  • Haiti (Expires: January 2, 2020)
  • Honduras (Currently expires January 5, 2020 but around November 21, 2019 DHS will announce a nine-month automatic extension of protections until October 5, 2020 if the Ramos order*** is still in effect)
  • *Liberia (See below)
  • Nepal (Currently expires June 24, 2019 but around May 10, 2019 DHS will announce a nine-month automatic extension of protections until March 24, 2020 if the Ramos order *** is still in effect)
  • Nicaragua (Expires: January 2, 2020)
  • Sierra Leone (EXPIRED: May 21, 2017)
  • Somalia (Expires: March 17, 2020)
  • South Sudan (Expires: November 2, 2020)
  • Sudan (Expires: January 2, 2020)
  • Syria (Expires: September 30, 2019)
  • Yemen (Expires: March 3, 2020)

*Liberia has been granted Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) protections which will end March 30, 2020.

**These are subject to change. Please check USCIS’s website and CLINIC’S chart frequently for updates.

***Read more about the Ramos order and Ramos v. Nielsen below

To check these dates in the official Federal Register, visit FederalRegister.gov and search “TPS” and the name of your country (e.g. “TPS Nicaragua”). Additionally, CLINIC keeps an up-to-date chart of TPS designations and associated expiration dates.

Travel

TPS holders who want to travel outside the United States must first apply for something called advance parole travel authorization. You may apply for this with Form I-131 and file it together with the I-821 or separately based on a pending or approved I-821.

However, before deciding to depart the country, you should consult an immigration attorney or DOJ-accredited representative about the risks of traveling with advance parole as well as the potential of creating adjustment of status eligibility based on being paroled back into the U.S.