Temporary Protected Status: When is it Available, and to Whom?
Contributor: Van T. Doan
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is, as the name implies, a temporary benefit available to nationals of certain countries based on conditions in that country such as natural disasters, epidemics, or civil war or other political unrest. In light of rising political tensions across the globe, as well as the tsunamis, floods, earthquakes and other disasters of recent years, TPS is a benefit that may be accessible to more foreign nationals within the United States.
How and When Temporary Protected Status Becomes Available
Temporary Protected Status becomes available when the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security designates a particular country for TPS. This designation may be made due to ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster, or “other extraordinary and temporary conditions.”
During a period in which a country is designated for TPS, TPS beneficiaries or those found to have preliminary eligibility for TPS are not removable from the United States. They are also eligible to obtain an employment authorization document (EAD) and may be granted travel authorization. While an individual with TPS may not be detained by the Department of Homeland Security on the basis of immigration status, TPS does not create a “path to citizenship” or lead to lawful permanent resident status. That said, an individual who has registered for TPS is not barred from applying for nonimmigrant status or applying for any other immigration benefit to which he or she may be entitled.
Temporary Protected Status Eligibility Requirements
Foreign nationals must meet eligibility requirements for TPS and for any other immigration benefit for which they are applying. Application for, or denial of, one benefit, does not in and of itself affect a TPS application.
Grounds for TPS eligibility are fairly straightforward. In order to be granted, TPS, an individual must:
- Be a foreign national from a country with a TPS designation. If an individual has no nationality, he or she must have most recently habitually resided in a TPS-designated country;
- Apply for TPS during an open initial registration, or subsequent re-registration period. Under some circumstances, late initial filing is permitted;
- Have maintained continuous physical presence in the United States since the date of the most recent TPS designation of his or her country; and
- Have been continuously residing (CR) in the United States since the date indicated for his or her country.
Applicants for TPS may have “brief, casual, and innocent” absences from this country, but must disclose all such absences to USCIS, which will determine if the absences qualify.
Individuals who have been convicted of a felony, or of two or more misdemeanors in the U.S. are ineligible for TPS. Similarly, if a person has been found inadmissible as an immigrant, including for criminal or security reasons, he or she will be denied TPS. Individuals who have participated in the persecution of another person or engaged in terrorist activity, or are subject to any other mandatory bars to asylum, likewise will not be granted TPS. Those individuals who were granted TPS, but fail to re-register if required, then become ineligible for this benefit.
To learn more about eligibility for Temporary Protected Status, or for assistance in filing an application for TPS, contact Howard County, MD immigration lawyer Van T. Doan.