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Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

The United States government can decide that an emergency in a country makes it unsafe for citizens of that country who are already in the United States to go back to their country. This is called “designating” that country for TPS. Some examples of emergencies are civil wars and natural disasters. If your country has been designated for TPS and you live in the United States, you may meet the requirements to apply for TPS. A person who is granted TPS is allowed to live and work in the United States until the emergency is over.

Can I apply for TPS?

To be eligible for TPS, you must:

  • Be from, or have last lived in, a country the United States has put on the TPS list.
  • Have lived in the United States without leaving (other than for “brief, casual, and innocent travel”) since the most recent “designation date,” the date your country was put on the TPS list.
  • Have lived in the United States from your country’s “continuous residence” date on the TPS list.
  • File during an open registration period for your country, or meet a late filing exception.
  • Have a good criminal record. You may not meet the requirements for TPS if you have been convicted of a felony or two or more misdemeanors in the United States.
  • Not be “inadmissible” under the United States law. Some things that can make you inadmissible are criminal convictions, violating immigration laws, and medical issues.
    • Example: You are from Nepal. You came to the United States before June 24, 2015, the “designation date.” You have lived in the United States ever since. There is nothing like a bad criminal record that makes you “inadmissible.” You could apply for TPS between June 24, 2015 and December 21, 2015, the open registration period.

What countries are on the TPS list?

To see whether your country is on the TPS list, and to see if its registration period is open, you can visit the “Temporary Protected Status” page of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. As of Fall 2015, the following countries are on the TPS list:

  • El Salvador
  • Guinea      
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Liberia      
  • Nepal
  • Nicaragua
  • Sierra Leone      
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • South Sudan
  • Syria
  • Yemen

How do I apply for TPS?

You should look for help from an immigration lawyer to make sure you are eligible before you apply for TPS. You can apply for TPS by filling out Form I-821. You will also need to submit:

  • A filing fee of $50
  • A biometrics fee of $85 if you are over 15 years old
  • Evidence that proves who you are
  •  Evidence that you are a national of the country on the TPS list.
  • Proof that you lived in the United States since the most recent “designation date” for your country.
  • If you wish you receive a work permit, you must also submit:
    • Form I-785
    • A filing fee of $380 or a fee waiver request.

What happens after I have TPS?

During the time that you have TPS, you:

  • Can get work authorization,
  • Can’t be removed from the United States,
  • May apply for permission to travel outside the United States, called “Advance Parole.”
  • Must re-register during the re-registration periods for your country. See the TPS list for re-registration periods.

Can I apply for other forms of immigration relief while I have TPS?

Yes. If you are eligible for another form of immigration relief, you may want to apply while you have TPS, because TPS does not lead to permanent status.

Do I run any risks if I apply for TPS?

You should talk to a qualified immigration lawyer before applying to TPS. Some risks may include:

  • If your application is denied, you may be placed in removal proceedings.
  • USCIS will have your fingerprints and biometric information on file.
Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Last Updated May 2016

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