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 Temporary Protected Status (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 no criminal record, or a very limited one. 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. You may be able to apply for a waiver if you are inadmissible.
- Example: You are from Afghanistan. You came to the United States before May 20, 2022, the “designation date.” You have lived in the United States since the continuous residence date of March 15, 2022. You have no criminal record, no immigration violations, or other things that make you “inadmissible.” You could apply for TPS between May 20, 2022 and November 20, 2023, 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 June 2023, the following countries are on the TPS list:
- Burma (Myanmar)
- El Salvador
- South Sudan
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 or a fee waiver request on Form I-912.
- A biometrics fee of $85 if you are over 14 years old or a fee waiver request on Form I-912,
- Evidence that proves your identity.
- Evidence that you are a national or citizen of the country on the TPS list.
- Proof that you lived in the United States since the most recent “designation date” and continuous residence for your country.
- If you wish you receive a work permit, you must also submit:
- Form I-765,
- Two passport-style photographs, and
- A filing fee of $410 or a fee waiver request on Form I-912.
- If you want to use a fee waiver, you can use one for all of the forms for TPS and your work permit.
What happens after I have TPS?
During the time that you have TPS, you:
- Can get work authorization,
- Cannot be removed from the United States,
- May apply for permission to travel outside the United States, by applying for something 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 the government can end TPS at any time and it does not lead to permanent status, like a green card.
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 (deportation) proceedings.
- USCIS will have your fingerprints and biometric information on file.
As of June 2023, TPS for El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal, and Nicaragua has been extended. Check the USCIS website for updated information.