Temporary Protected Status: An Overview
Across the world, certain disastrous situations like famine, civil war, or natural disasters force people to flee their homes and communities. Created in the Immigration Act of 1990, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) provides certain foreign nationals with special immigration status. The TPS program allows eligible immigrants to stay in the U.S. permanently as long as their country remains on the TPS designation list.
Recently, the Trump administration attempted to cancel TPS designation for hundreds of thousands of people from several countries, including Honduras, Nepal, and El Salvador. And this caused an uproar, as many of these special status immigrants have been living in the U.S. for over a decade and have integrated completely into their communities. They have jobs, children, friends, and homes in the U.S. Thus, lives for these TPS designees would be shattered if they were to be suddenly forced back to a country they haven’t seen in perhaps 10-20 years.
Considering the critical nature of such a decision, U.S. courts have stopped the Trump administration from deporting certain TPS designees that lost status in 2017 and 2018. This stop due to a temporary injunction, while litigation is pending. Once the courts have made a decision, either TPS designation will be reinstated for certain groups or removal proceedings will continue.
Thus, it seems imperative to take a look at Temporary Protected Status. What is it? How many people benefit from the program? And what is currently happening?
About Temporary Protected Status
Created via the Immigration Act of 1990, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) protected thousands upon thousands of immigrants on U.S. soil. The intention of the program is to provide temporary immigration status to people from certain TPS-designated countries. Because the program provides temporary special status to designees, it does not lead to any permanent status. TPS recipients are not eligible for green cards and thus cannot become lawful permanent residents (LPRs) or naturalized citizens.
Despite this, many TPS recipients have held the special status for years, even decades. They have developed and cultivated lives and families on American soil. Thus, the sudden removal of TPS-designation from countries can have ramifications that reverberate throughout American communities.
Who can receive Temporary Protected Status?
Eligible persons from TPS-designated countries can apply for the special immigration status. Once they’ve applied, they’ll undergo the usual rigorous U.S. vetting process. A country can be designated for the program for a number of reasons. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) lists the qualifications for Temporary Protected Status designation on its website (also below).
- Armed Conflict, such as civil war or hostile occupation;
- Environmental Disaster, such as a tsunami, earthquake, or fire;
- Epidemic or pandemic, like Ebola virus; and/or
- Other extraordinary or temporary conditions identified by DHS.
Countries fitting any of the above criteria may be designated as Temporary Protected Status. Thus, any immigrant in the U.S. arriving from that country is eligible for consideration for special status. This also means that the sudden removal of a country from TPS-designation may leave many immigrants without legal immigration status, putting them in danger of deportation. You can view the list of TPS eligible countries on the USCIS’s website.
Current TPS-Designated Countries
We list current TPS-designated countries below. Please note, some countries have technically had TPS designation revoked, but in some cases such decisions are pending litigation. Thus, those countries in the list below have been marked with an asterisk (*).
Current TPS-designated countries:
- El Salvador*
- South Sudan
Applying for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
If a person is from an eligible country, they can apply for protected via the TPS program. Each year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) decides which countries to add or remove from TPS status. Some countries, like Honduras, held TPS status for nearly 20 years.
If you are an immigrant from a TPS-designated country that is currently accepting applications, you must fit a certain set of guidelines. The USCIS outlines these guidelines further on their website.
Is Temporary Protected Status Permanent?
As discussed above and suggested by its name, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) provides no permanent designation or protection to its recipients. Unfortunately, this means that the government can tear away status from people who have lived in the U.S. for decades.
Rights of TPS Designees
Despite this, when a person has TPS protection, they have certain rights according to the USCIS. A TPS designee is (1) protected from removal from the U.S., (2) is eligible to receive an employment authorization document (EAD), and (3) may be granted authorization to travel outside of the U.S. under certain circumstances.
Applying for Adjustment of Status
And while TPS designation may not directly lead to lawful permanent resident (LPR) status or naturalization, it does not bar recipients from lawfully pursing these routes through other means. But TPS designees would need to fit one of the green card eligibility categories. For example, if a person protected via the TPS program is eligible for a green card through familial connections, their special status would not bar them or harm their application.
Contact an Expert Immigration Attorney
In conclusion, if you or a loved one possesses Temporary Protected Status (TPS), you should not wait to discuss your situation with an expert immigration attorney. Currently, the Trump administration is attempting to remove status designation from hundreds of thousands of people. This could affect families and their children in vast and unpredictable ways.
A lawyer skilled in immigration law can help to guide your case and protect your rights. Further, your lawyer can ensure you receive fair judicial consideration. The lawyers at Davis & Associates passionately serve clients in Miami, Dallas, and Houston. Call today to discuss your concerns or case – you’ll sit down with an expert attorney for a free initial consultation.