The concept of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and its application process can be confusing, especially if you’re not familiar with U.S immigration laws. We’ll understand how to apply for TPS and everything you need to know about it in this article.
It’s important to consult an experienced immigration attorney in San Jose to understand the legal implications involved in applying for TPS. They can also help you understand the eligibility criteria, decide whether you need to fill any additional forms while applying, and how it may affect your asylum status.
Let’s dive into everything you need to know about TPS by starting with what it is, the eligibility criteria, and finally, look at how to apply for TPS.
What is TPS?
TPS is a program established by the United States Congress in 1990. It allows migrants whose native countries are deemed unsafe to reside and work in the country for a temporary, but extendable, amount of time.
Individuals protected under TPS can live, work, and travel in and out of the U.S like any other resident of the country. However, TPS does not automatically guarantee lawful permanent residence (a green card). You may apply for it separately if you fulfill its eligibility criteria and your TPS status will not have a bearing on the application.
TPS can only be granted to individuals belonging or habitually residing in eligible countries if they fill out Form I-821 and pay associated fees. You must also submit Form I-765 to be eligible to work in the United States (you must submit it even if you do not wish to work in the U.S).
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) periodically rolls out dates during which it accepts TPS applications. Ensure that you submit all the necessary forms and documents mentioned in this article (and anything else your immigration attorney suggests) within the specified timeline.
How TPS is determined
The Secretary of Homeland Security has the authority to grant or deny TPS to any country. In creating a designation for a country, or even a portion of a country, the DHS is required to consult with other federal departments such as the Departments of State, Defense, and Justice. If a nation meets one or all of the following criteria, it’s eligible for TPS:
- A major armed conflict: Instances include internationalized military insurrection (civil war) as well as non-international military conflict involving stateless corrupt elements like DAESH.
- Natural catastrophes: Tsunamis, earthquakes, and epidemic outbreaks are examples of natural disasters that cause severe disruption to living conditions. Often, infrastructure is so disrupted that returning the person to their country of residence is difficult.
- Extraordinary and temporary situations: If the security and safety of someone seeking to immigrate to the United States would be threatened. For example, if they returned to their home country due to problems not covered by the first 2 conditions. But it comes with a caveat that the relevant U.S. government agency determines that allowing individuals to stay is contrary to U.S. national interest.
Once a country is granted TPS, any national or stateless individual habitually living/working in the country and is already in the U.S may apply for TPS. Anybody who arrives in the United States after the date of designation is generally ineligible to apply for protective status.
What are the benefits provided to TPS beneficiaries?
Persons who are TPS beneficiaries or who are identified as preliminarily eligible for TPS after an initial assessment of their cases (prima facie qualified):
- Cannot be deported from the United States
- Can acquire an Employment Authorization document (EAD)
- May be eligible for travel authorization
An individual who has been granted TPS also cannot be detained by DHS because of their immigration status in the U.S.
How long does it last?
Temporary Protected Status is usually granted for 6, 12, or 18 months and it may be extended at the discretion of the Secretary of Homeland Security. If the designation is “redesignated,” anybody from the designated country that came to the US after the original designation is eligible to apply for TPS. If a country’s designation is extended, the current TPS holders’ status is also extended till the expiry of the new extension.
Your TPS status is automatically extended with the extension of your home country’s protected status. If the Secretary does not extend the protected status for your home country, your TPS status also expires with the original expiry date of your country’s status.
Countries designated for TPS
Currently, the countries designated for TPS include the following:
- Burma (Myanmar)
- El Salvador
- South Sudan
You may check country-specific details on the official USCIS website here.
Are you eligible for TPS?
You may be eligible to acquire a protected status if you:
- Must be a citizen of a TPS-designated country or a stateless individual who last continually resided in that country.
- Must file your application in the open initial registration or re-registration time frame, or meet the late initial filing requirements during any extension of your country’s TPS designation;
- Were continuously physically present (CPP) in the U.S since the commencement of your country’s most recent designation date
- Have lived continuously resided (CR) in the United States since the date specified for your home country.
The law makes an exception to the CPP and CR requirements for short, casual, and innocent absences from the United States. When applying for or re-registering for TPS, you must notify USCIS of any and all absences from the US since the CPP and CR dates. USCIS will decide if the exception is applicable to your situation.
You may not be qualified for TPS or be able to keep your current TPS if you:
- Have been convicted in the United States of a felony or 2 or more misdemeanor charges.
- Are deemed inadmissible as an immigrant under INA section 212(a) criteria, such as non-waivable criminal and security grounds.
- Are subject to any of the asylum bars mandated by law. These include, and are not restricted to, engaging in or inciting terrorist activity or actively engaging in the persecution of another individual.
- Failure to meet the requirements for CPP and CR in the U.S.
- Failure to meet the requirements of initial or late TPS registration.
- Failure to meet the requirements of initial or late TPS registration.
- Or if awarded TPS, you did not re-register for TPS without a valid reason.
How to apply for TPS
When submitting your TPS application, you must include all required forms, proofs, fees, or a fee waiver request. The data below outlines what you should include in your TPS bundle. You should also check your country’s specific TPS page on the USCIS website to check if your country has any special filing instructions. Your immigration attorney can help with this.
It’s always best to consult an immigration attorney who is experienced in the field as the TPS application process can be confusing, lengthy, and expensive. However, here is an overview of the forms and documents you need and the associated fees you may have to bear while applying for TPS.
You must properly fill and submit the following forms while applying for TPS:
- Application for Temporary Protected Status (Form I-821): To apply for or renew TPS, submit this form via the TPS page on the USCIS website. Or you can mail it to the address mentioned in the Federal Register for your country (other than Venezuela). Each country’s TPS page on the USCIS website contains details on how to file your application.
Please Note: applicants from the following countries can now submit their TPS applications (Form I-821) online – Burma (Myanmar), Syria, Somalia, Yemen, and Venezuela.
- Application for Employment Authorization (EAD) Form I-765: this is not required to be filed as part of the TPS application. It can be submitted at any time while an individual is on TPS. While not required, submitting Form I-765 along with Form I-821 “may help you receive your EAD more quickly if you are eligible,” according to the USCIS website.
- Waiver of Admissibility Grounds (only if applicable) Form I-601: If a person is deemed inadmissible to the U.S and wishes to seek a waiver on the basis of the ruling.
The following documents must be submitted along with the TPS application. In all cases, send a copy of the documentation rather than the original.
Evidence of Identity and Nationality
This shows your nationality or habitual residence in a TPS-designated country. The most beneficial documentation to file is primary evidence, as defined below. If USCIS determines that the evidence submitted is insufficient, it will ask for additional evidence. Secondary evidence, as outlined below, may be submitted at that point.
You must submit the following documents as primary evidence:
- A copy of your passport
- A copy of your birth certificate with a photo ID
- Any national identity document having a photo and/or fingerprint issued by your home country, along with any documents issued by your country’s Consulate or Embassy in the United States. For example, a national ID card or naturalization certificate.
If primary evidence is not available, an affidavit containing the following information can be submitted:
- Proof of your efforts to obtain these documents
- An explanation for why the consular process was inaccessible to you, as well as confirmation of nationality or habitual residence in a TPS-designated country.
An interview may be conducted as part of the process, and any additional evidence can be submitted at that time.
You may submit the following documents as secondary evidence:
- Documentation of nationality, such as a naturalization certificate, even when it has no photo and fingerprint.
- A baptism certificate if it denotes your nationality or, in the case of a minor individual, the nationality of their parent.
- Copies of school or medical information if it contains information supporting a claim of citizenship from a TPS-eligible country.
- Copies of additional immigration documents demonstrating citizenship and identity.
- Affidavits from family or friends who have firsthand knowledge of an applicant’s birth date and place, as well as their parents’ nationality.
Evidence of date of entry
This documentation is simple and confirms when you entered the United States. Acceptable evidence includes:
- A passport copy
- An I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
- Documentation specified in the “Continuous Residence (CR) Evidence,” as described below.
Evidence of Continuous Residence (CR)
This documentation demonstrates that you were living in the United States when your country of origin was granted protected status. This would include, but is not limited to, the items listed below:
- Employment history
- Rent receipts, utility bills, company receipts, or letters
- School records from schools attended by an applicant or their children in the United States Hospital
- Medical records pertaining to hospitalization or treatment for you or your children
- Attestations from church, union, or other organisational officials who are acquainted with the applicant.
Fees associated with the TPS application process
When applying for TPS for the very first time, there are a number of fees to consider. Form I-821 is free when re-registering. Fees must be paid in the form of a money order, personal check, or cashier’s check made payable to the United States Department of Homeland Security. Credit cards are accepted at USCIS Lockbox facilities using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions. A fee for biometrics is included in the filing fee for TPS registration or re-registration.
The fee for form I-821 differs based on various factors. A fee structure chart, including additional fees for form I-765, can be found here.
Form I-601 has a fee of $930.
If you cannot afford the fees associated with the TPS application, you may submit a fee waiver form. You can find more information about this on the USCIS website or your immigration attorney can help you with it.
Wrapping it up
Individuals who belong to countries that are war-torn, affected by natural calamities, or by an epidemic outbreak are provided the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) by the U.S Department of Homeland Security. This protected status enables you to stay and work in the U.S like any other resident until the expiry of your status. You may still apply for lawful permanent residence (a green card) if you meet the eligibility criteria for it but it’s not guaranteed by holding TPS.
It’s always best to consult experienced immigration attorneys to help you through the process of applying for TPS. However, you can get an idea of everything you will need to get started by following the tips above on how to apply for TPS.
Contact us now to speak with the best immigration attorneys in San Jose who can help you complete your TPS application quickly and easily.