What Is Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?

The Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program, established by Congress in 1990, allows foreign-born individuals to legally reside in the United States if their home country is facing unsafe conditions such as armed conflicts, environmental disasters, epidemics, or other extraordinary and temporary situations. 

TPS is granted by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and can be renewed indefinitely as long as a country’s conditions prevent safe return. TPS holders are eligible for employment and travel authorization and are protected from deportation. However, TPS does not provide a pathway to permanent residency or any other immigration status. 

Despite this limitation, individuals who qualify for TPS can still seek other nonimmigrant or immigrant benefits, provided they meet the eligibility criteria. It’s also worth noting that being denied other immigration benefits or asylum does not prevent someone from registering for TPS—although the grounds for denial of those benefits could also be used to deny TPS.

How Does TPS Work?

Once a country has been granted TPS designation, any citizen of that country who’s physically present in the U.S. may apply for the program as long as they meet specific requirements set by USCIS. In addition, the Secretary of Homeland Security has the power to grant TPS designation, which can be renewed indefinitely, depending on the conditions in the country. 

When the TPS designation expires, TPS holders return to their prior immigration status, which, in most cases, means undocumented status and facing the risk of deportation. Although eligible migrants can apply for temporary work or student visas, they aren’t permanent solutions. However, those with spouses or adult children who are citizens or legal residents may be eligible to stay in the U.S. legally.

Which Countries are Designated for TPS?

There are currently 16 countries that have TPS designations:

  • Afghanistan
  • Burma (Myanmar)
  • Cameroon
  • El Salvador
  • Ethiopia
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Nepal
  • Nicaragua
  • Somalia
  • South Sudan
  • Sudan 
  • Syria
  • Ukraine
  • Venezuela
  • Yemen

Who is Eligible for TPS?

To be eligible for TPS, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You’re a national of a designated TPS country or a person without a nationality who previously resided in a designated TPS country;
  • You filed your TPS application during the open initial registration or re-registration period or met the requirements for late initial filing during any extension of your country’s TPS designation; 
  • You’ve been continuously physically present (CPP) in the U.S. since the most recent effective date of your country’s TPS designation; and
  • You’ve been continuously residing (CR) in the U.S. since the date specified for your country. 

However, there is an exception to the continuous physical presence and continuous residence requirements for brief, casual, and innocent departures from the United States. Therefore, if you apply or re-register for TPS, you must inform USCIS of all absences from the United States since the CPP and CR dates, and USCIS will determine whether the exception applies to your case.

It’s also important to note that you may not be eligible for TPS or allowed to maintain your existing TPS if any of the following conditions apply:

  • You’ve been convicted of two or more misdemeanors or any felony committed in the U.S.;
  • You’ve been found inadmissible as an immigrant under applicable grounds in INA section 212(a), including non-waivable criminal and security-related grounds;
  • You’re subject to any of the mandatory bars to asylum, including (but not limited to) participating in the persecution of another individual or inciting or engaging in terrorist activity;
  • You fail to meet the CCP and CR requirements;
  • You fail to meet the TPS registration requirements;
  • You fail to re-register for TPS without good cause

The TPS Application Process

Here’s a summary of the steps you’ll need to take if you would like to apply for TPS status:

Step 1: File your petition with the USCIS and pay the fees (or submit a fee waiver request). Make sure you sign your application and include all the required evidence.

Step 2: USCIS will review your application for completeness and the correct fees. You’ll receive a receipt notice if your application meets the basic acceptance criteria. If your application is rejected, you may refile after correcting the issues.

Step 3: USCIS will contact you to collect your biometrics (photograph, signature, and/or fingerprints) at an Application Support Center (ASC).

Step 4: Report to the ASC with the required documents, including:

  • Evidence of your nationality and identity 
  • A photograph of you
  • Your receipt notice
  • Your ASC appointment notice
  • Your current EAD (if you already have one) 

If you cannot make your appointment, you may reschedule, but keep in mind that it may cause processing delays.

Step 5: If you’re seeking an employment authorization document (EAD), USCIS will review your case to determine whether you’re eligible to work before making a final decision on your TPS application.

Step 6: USCIS will adjudicate your application, and if approved, you’ll receive a notice of TPS approval and a new EAD (if applicable). If your application is denied, you may appeal or request a review.

Once you’re granted TPS, you must re-register during each re-registration period to maintain your status.

Why You Should Consider Working with an Experienced Immigration Attorney

Although the application process is relatively straightforward, you can significantly improve your chances of having your TPS application approved by working with an experienced immigration attorney. 

The TPS application itself can be complex and confusing, and depending on the conditions in your home country, you may have trouble knowing which steps to take to gather the information you need. For example, when trying to prove your nationality, you may discover that the building that housed your records was destroyed. Or, you may have left the U.S. briefly and are unsure whether you meet the continuous residence requirement. 

By analyzing your immigration history, country of origin, and other relevant factors, an immigration attorney can help you determine whether you meet the eligibility requirements for TPS. In addition, your attorney can provide valuable guidance in completing and filing your TPS application, ensuring that all necessary information is included and required documents are properly attached. Finally, if USCIS requests additional information or documentation during the application process, your attorney can help you gather and provide the necessary materials. 

In the unfortunate event that your TPS application is denied and you need to appeal the decision, an immigration attorney can represent you in court and argue your case. Additionally, your attorney can keep you informed throughout the application process of any updates or changes in the status of your application. 


If you’d like to find out if you qualify for TPS status or need assistance with the application process, contact the Ranchod Law Group today at (916) 613-3553 to schedule a consultation or email us at info@ranchodlaw.com

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