So you’ve just had to flee from your country, and you hear something about a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) on reaching the United States. But you’re wondering – what is TPS? This is what we’ll aim to explain in this article.
For many individuals who are already in the United States, TPS is a lifeline that has protected them when they had to flee from their home country. This program, which was first established by the United States Congress in 1990, provided migrants the right to live and also work in the US for a certain period of time. These migrants are those that were not able to return to their home countries due to certain safety conditions. Although migrants provided the Temporary Protection Status are not considered to be permanent lawful citizens of the United States, there are records of many living in the country for more than 20 years.
Read on, if you want to learn more about Temporary Protected Status. In the following sections, we’ll cover everything about TPS, from eligibility, process of application to the benefits of this program. Without further ado, let’s dive in.
What is TPS?
TPS or Temporary Protected Status is a program by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that provides temporary residence to migrants from designated countries. Under this program, they are allowed to legally reside in the country for a period of 18 months, which is extendable depending on their situation. During their period of residence, individuals holding TPS are protected from deportation, and are also provided authorization for travel and employment. Although there is no path for permanent residency provided within the program, TPS holders can apply for the same separately.
US Congress first created the TPS in 1990, as part of the Immigration Act. The program was designed to provide humanitarian aid to citizens from countries that were affected by natural disasters, armed conflict, and protracted unrest. During the first year of establishment, the program helped citizens from El Salvador who were fleeing the country because of civil war.
There are some other countries too that provide similar kinds of relief to migrants. In the early 90s, many refugees from the Balkans were provided something akin to temporary protected status in European states. Turkey also provided the same to millions of people who fled Syria during the civil war. In the latest case, the Colombian government granted Venezuelan migrants a 10-year temporary protected status, along with access to social services and employment.
TPS Holders in the United States
As of April 2022, the number of TPS holders estimated to be living in the United States is more than 400,000. These TPS holders live in all 50 states of the United States, and 80% of them are working individuals. Many of them own homes, pay taxes, and are major contributors to the economy of the United States.
Here is a rough estimate of the TPS holders from different countries –
Country Estimated Number
El Salvador 251,567
South Sudan 83
What was the decision taken for TPS program under the Trump Administration?
For more than 30 years, the TPS program had received the support of both Republicans and Democrats. But the controversy over this program started during the administrative regime of former President Donald Trump, when he decided to end TPS for hundreds and thousands of migrants. The Trump administration claimed that the conditions in certain countries had improved, which is why they’d decided to remove the TPS status for them. However, the reality was that the conditions of many of these countries were dangerously unsettled. This move, which was part of this broader strategy to restrict immigration, was challenged in the courts. Eventually, it was delayed.
When President Joe Biden came to power in 2021, he promised the TPS holders that the decision would be overhauled. In the last year, he has also granted Temporary Protected Status to 4 more countries. The new President has also promised the TPS holders that he would provide them a pathway to citizenship too.
How are TPS holders contributing to the US economy?
According to a CMS report, more than 80% of TPS holders from countries like Haiti, Honduras, and El Salvador contribute to the labor force of the United States. They are the driving force behind important economic industries like education, child care, construction, healthcare, landscaping, and more. A move to remove these contributors from the country would certainly affect the American economy adversely. Here’s a look at the economic costs of removing TPS for Honduras, Haiti, and El Salvador –
- Loss of GDP over the next 10 years – $164 billion
- Taxpayers would have to bear $3.1 billion in taxes if they were deported.
- The turnover costs would amount to $967 million.
- The Medicare and Social Security contributions would decrease by $6.9 billion over the next 10 years.
TPS Designated Countries
For giving TPS to a country, one of the following reasons must apply –
- Ongoing armed conflict: If the nationals of a country are faced with a civil war-like situation, which poses a threat to their personal safety.
- Natural disaster: If the nationals of a country are faced with environmental disasters like a hurricane, earthquake, epidemic, etc. Anything that causes a temporary, but substantial disruption in their living conditions, and the said country is not able to handle its returning nationals.
- Extraordinary conditions: If the foreign country is faced with extraordinary yet temporary conditions, as a result of which nationals cannot return back to their country safely.
The Temporary Protected Status has been given to the following countries (as of March 2021) –
- El Salvador
- South Sudan
The countries for which the Temporary Protection Status (TPS) has expired consist of –
- Province of Kosovo
- Sierra Leone
TPS Designations: How long are they?
Typically, a TPS designation is made for 6, 12, or 18 months at a time. If a country’s TPS is expiring, 60 days prior to the expiration, the Secretary must decide whether to terminate or extend the designation of the country, depending on the existing conditions. Any decisions related to termination or extension of the TPS designation have to be published in the Federal Register. If the decision for the same is not published within 60 days, the TPS designation is extended for 6 months automatically. Legally, there are no limits on the amount of time a country can hold a TPS designation.
TPS: Who is eligible and who is not?
If you are from any of these designated countries, you wouldn’t receive the TPS automatically. You would have to register, pay some fees and qualify for certain eligibility conditions to get the TPS. To receive TPS in the United States, an individual must fulfill the following –
- They should be residents and nationals of a foreign country that has received the Temporary Protection Status. If they are an alien with no nationality, they should have lived in a country with TPS designation for some period of time.
- They should have been present in the US continuously since the date of designation becomes effective.
- They should reside in the US continuously from the date given by the Secretary of Homeland Security.
It’s also important to know what bars a person from being eligible for TPS. Here are some points to keep in mind when it comes to ineligibility –
- If a person has been convicted of a felony or charged with 2 or more misdemeanors in the United States.
- If a person is not allowed to enter the US as an immigrant for security-related reasons or because of a non-waivable criminal offense.
- If a person is barred from seeking asylum in the US.
- If they fail to meet the requirements of both continuous residence and physical presence in the US.
- If a person does not register or re-register timely for TPS.
What are the benefits of availing Temporary Protection Status?
If a person registers for TPS, they can avail the following benefits –
- They cannot be deported or removed from the US.
- They are granted authorization for travel.
- They can obtain authorization for employment.
It is important to note that if you’ve been awarded TPS, it doesn’t ensure that you can become a permanent US resident. For permanent residency, you would have to –
- File an application for non-immigrant status.
- Apply for a green card.
- Apply for any other protection or immigrant benefits which you’re eligible for.
Applying for TPS
To apply for TPS, you would first have to confirm is your country has been awarded TPS designation by the United States. Thereafter, you would have to file and submit the following –
- Form I-821 to apply for Temporary Protected Status.
- Form I-765 for obtaining employment authorization.
- Form I-601 to request for waiver of inadmissibility (if required)
- Applicable fees or waiver request fees.
While filing your application, you would also have to submit some documents as evidence. Here’s an overview of things you can be asked to show as evidence –
- Your nationality and identity
- The date on which you entered the United States
- Proof of continuous residence in the United States since leaving the foreign country.
These documents have to be in English, or should be accompanied by English translation. For a complete list of documents and more, visit the USCIS TPS page here.
Everything you need to know about TPS: A Roundup
As we’ve stated before, you can register for Temporary Protection Status by completing the application processes given by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You would be required to pay a certain amount as a fee for completing the registration process. If the TPS is granted to you, there will be a temporary stay on deportation for the length of your TPS status. You will also have temporary authorization to travel and work in the United States.
Something most people wonder at this point of time is whether Temporary Protected Status makes them eligible for citizenship or green card in the United States. The fact is that TPS does not provide a pathway for availing citizenship, however, it doesn’t bar anyone from applying for citizenship either. There are several cases underway in the US Supreme Court regarding a TPS-granted individual’s path to citizenship or permanent residence.
If anyone wants to change their status, they would have to apply through the green card consular process, according to the protocols laid down by the Homeland Security Department. If the TPS designation has been removed for a country, the TPS status of the foreign national belonging to that country would also be reverted.
A status that is closely related to Temporary Protected Status is Deferred Enforced Departure (DED). This is quite similar to TPS, however, DED designation is granted by the power of the executive office. As of February 2021, the two countries that have been given DED designations are Venezuela and Liberia.
FAQs on TPS
FAQ #1: Is seeking asylum and TPS the same?
No. To apply for TPS, you have to be a national from a TPS-designated country. For seeking asylum, on the other hand, there are no such rules, which means that anyone can seek asylum.
FAQ #2: How long does Temporary Protected Status last?
There is usually no fixed duration of TPS. However, the Department of Homeland Security usually provides a time frame when announcing TPS designation for a country.
FAQ #3: Can I travel with a TPS?
Yes. You can certainly travel with TPS, but you will need to apply for advance parole for proper authorization to travel.
Want Help in Obtaining TPS? Contact Yemi Getachew Immigration Law Office
With this, we’ve hopefully provided the answer to your question – what is TPS? If you are perplexed by the entire process of attaining TPS, or you’re faced with deportation, we at the Yemi Getachew Immigration Law Office can help you navigate this process better. Our experienced immigration attorneys will help you fight deportation so that you can stay in the United States legally. We can also help you with consular processing, family immigration, applying for green cards, citizenship, and more.
To schedule a meeting with our immigration attorney, call us today on 408-292-7995. You can also contact us by filling in the form here.