Many people are willing to leave their home countries and seek better opportunities in the US. They apply for visas and try to find employers willing to sponsor them. But for some people, the situation in their home countries becomes too difficult that they cannot return. For these people, the US offers Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
This article will go through the relevant details of TPS and how to get it.
What is TPS?
Certain events or situations might leave a country’s nationals unable to return to that country safely or the country cannot accept those returning. That is when the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may issue a statement that it wants to include a country and its nationals who are in the US in the Temporary Protected Status.
The following situations or events need to happen for a country to be granted TPS:
- Armed conflict that is ongoing or continuous;
- Environmental disasters or severe epidemics;
- Other extraordinary and temporary conditions.
There are few countries which get TPS, but once given the status, the nationals of that country in the US have several rights. They are allowed to stay in the US until a time when the DHS removes the status from the country due to improving conditions. They can find jobs and get an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to work, and they can travel outside of the US with a travel authorization.
The TPS status is temporary until issues are resolved in the person’s home country. This status does not lead to getting a Green Card or a Lawful Permanent Residence in the US. But, it does not stop the people with a TPS status to apply for a nonimmigrant or immigrant visa, or another immigrant benefit or protection such as asylum or refugee.
Which Countries are TPS Countries?
Few countries get the TPS designation from the US Department of Homeland Security. At the time of writing, these countries have TPS status in the US:
- El Salvador
- South Sudan
What are the TPS Requirements?
The requirements for TPS are quite extensive. To be eligible as a TPS person you must:
- Be a national of the country that the DHS has given a TPS status or a person with no nationality who has last lived in that country;
- File for TPS during the registration or re-registration period or be eligible for late filing;
- Be in the US. when your country was designated with TPS status;
- Continuously live in the US from the time your country got TPS status to when you apply for it.
You are not eligible for TPS or you cannot continue your TPS if:
- You are convicted for a felony or more than two misdemeanors of crimes committed in the US;
- You are inadmissible due to security concerns;
- You are subject to mandatory asylum bars such as persecuting another person or involvement in terrorist activity;
- You were not present in the US when your country was designated as TPS or did not continue physical presence afterwards;
- You do not register for TPS during the registration or late registration period;
- You do not file for re-registration after getting an initial TPS.
How to Apply for TPS?
The application for TPS requires a lot of supporting documents and forms. To make sure you have everything that is necessary, the steps to apply for TPS are as follows.
Step 1: File the TPS form
To start the registration for TPS, you must file Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status. If you are applying for the first time, then you can also attach a Form I-765, Request for Employment Authorization so you can start working if your application is approved. The forms and all applicable documents must be submitted to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
If you know that there are grounds for which USCIS might deem you inadmissible, then you can also file Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds on Inadmissibility.
Step 2: Attach supporting documents and evidence
There are three types of supporting documents and evidence you must include with your forms when applying for TPS. The documents must be in English or be translated by a professional who can attest that the translation is correct to the best of their knowledge.
Identity and Nationality Evidence
This is to demonstrate that you are a national of the designated TPS country. Primary evidence to show this could be submitting:
- A copy of your passport from the TPS country;
- A copy of your birth certificate with a photo identifying you;
- A document of national identity with your photo or fingerprint that was issued by an Embassy or Consulate of your country in the US.
Secondary evidence could be:
- Documents proving your nationality such as a naturalization certificate which does not necessarily need to have a photo or fingerprint;
- A baptismal certificate which shows your nationality or your parent’s nationalities;
- Copies of school or medical records if there is any information on them which indicates that you are a national of the TPS country;
- Copies of any immigration document that shows your identity or nationality;
- Affidavits from family or friends who have knowledge of your birthplace and birthday and your parent’s nationality. The letter must include details about how the person knows you and how they know these details.
If you fail to provide primary evidence then you can submit an affidavit showing why you could not obtain any of the documents and why your country’s Embassy in the US was unavailable to provide any such document. USCIS could then invite you for an interview to determine your nationality, where you can also bring the secondary evidence.
Date of Entry Evidence
These are documents which can prove when you entered the US. The following can qualify:
- The copy of your passport;
- Your Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record;
- Copies of documents specified in the Continuous Residence Evidence.
Continuous Residence Evidence
This is to prove that you were in the US since your country was designated as a TPS country by DHS. The following qualify:
- Lease agreement or receipts, utility bills, or letters from companies;
- Any employment records or school letters;
- Medical or hospital records from your or your children’s treatment;
- Affidavits from a church or other organization that knows you and knows where you have been living.
Step 3: Submit your application
When you have filled the application forms and gathered the supporting evidence, you can then submit them to USCIS during the registration period. If they accept your application, you will receive a receipt notice. If they reject you, they will state the reasons and you can reapply. They will process the application within 3 weeks.
Step 4: Biometrics Collection
After processing your application, USCIS might need additional documents. If they do, they will send you a notice and you will have to send the document to them. If you are over the age of 14, USCIS will need your biometrics such as photograph, fingerprints, or signature.
Because of this, they will send you a notice to go to an Application Support Center (ASC). Your biometrics will be used to verify your identity, conduct a background check and issue your EAD.
When you go to the ASC on your appointment, you must bring the following:
- A document to prove your identity with a photograph;
- The receipts that you have paid all fees;
- The ASC appointment notice sent from USCIS;
- Your EAD if you already have one.
If you need to reschedule the appointment, you must request it from the ASC. But be cautious, rescheduling will increase the processing time. If you do not show up to any of your appointments, USCIS will deny your application.
Step 5: USCIS makes a decision
USCIS will review your application and will then either approve or deny it. Additionally, they also have to decide whether to issue you an EAD or not based on your eligibility.
If you were found inadmissible, USCIS will give you the opportunity to submit the Form I-601 if you did not submit it before. If USCIS approves your application, they will send you a notice informing you and an EAD if you asked for one. If they deny your application, they will send you a notice telling you the reasons and giving you an opportunity to appeal if you qualify.
What Are the TPS Fees?
The initial application for TPS to file Form I-821 will cost $50. If you are re-registering then you will not need to pay fees. But if USCIS asks you to give biometrics, then you will have to pay the $85 biometrics fee. You might also have to pay applicable fees for the EAD if you need one.
If you cannot afford the TPS fees, you can submit a fee waiver form to USCIS. The form is Form I-912, Application for Fee Waiver and a letter explaining why you cannot afford to pay for the TPS.
How Long is TPS Valid?
The validity of the TPS depends on the situation of your country. The initial TPS will be valid no less than 6 months and no more than 18 months. Afterwards you can re-register if you are allowed. This all depends on what the DHS decides and whether they extend TPS or not.
As of May 2018 the DHS has decided on the end dates for the TPS of each country.
|Country||End Date (MM/DD/YY)|
As of May 5th 2018, the DHS also decided that it will not accept any new applications from Honduras. Also, starting June 5th 2018, Hondurans holding a TPS are required to re-register in order to maintain their status. The other countries will be able to re-register until the end date of their country’s TPS.
Can I Travel Out of the US With a TPS?
If you have a TPS and want to travel, you will need a travel authorization. You can apply for the authorization by filing Form-131, Application for Travel Document to USCIS. USCIS will review it and can approve it for a specific period of time. You may then travel out of the US for that time and return.
If you travel out of the US without an authorization, you may not be allowed to re-enter the US and may lose TPS status.