What is Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in the US?

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When an emergency arises in another country, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security can designate citizens of that country eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

What is Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) enables citizens from designated countries to remain in the United States if it’s unsafe for them to return home because of a humanitarian emergency. The U.S. federal government may give the country’s citizens a TPS.

TPS allows individuals from the designated country to legally live and work in the United States. They cannot be deported as long as the TPS designation is in effect.

Applicants should provide proof that they have lived in the United States for a time stipulated by the federal government to receive TPS. Renewals for TPS designations occur at 6–18-month intervals, at which point the government decides if a specific country can safely accommodate its returning citizens. Individuals should re-register for TPS if the designation has ended or has been extended.

How is TPS Determined?

The designation is always at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security. The department consults with other federal agencies such as the Department of Justice, Defense, or Department of State to establish the designation for a country or, in special circumstances, only a region.

A country is eligible for TPS designation if it meets at least one of the following conditions:

An Ongoing Armed Conflict

Examples of armed conflicts include international and non-international armed conflicts such as civil war and stateless bad actors, respectively.

Natural Disasters

Living conditions in a country can be affected by natural events such as epidemics, earthquakes, and tsunamis.

Temporary and Extraordinary Conditions

If the safety and security of an individual in the United States would be significantly endangered if they went back to their home country because of issues not covered in the above conditions, the government can find it within national interest to let the individual stay.

TPS Eligibility: Which Countries Are Eligible?

To see countries that qualify for TPS and have valid registration, individuals can visit the Temporary Protected Status page of USCIS’s official site. As of this writing, 15 countries are designated for TPS.

TPS Benefits:

TPS holders, during a designated period:

  • Cannot be removed from the United States and cannot be detained by DHS based on their immigration status.
  • Can secure an employment authorization document (EAD).
  • Can secure travel authorization.

Additional Eligibility Requirements for TPS

Other than being a citizen of a designated country, there are several requirements that individuals must fulfill to qualify for TPS. Recipients should submit an application to USCIS within the registration window and meet the following criteria.

Physical Presence in the U.S.

You must have been physically present in the U.S. since the date your country was designated for TPS. You must be physically present in the U.S. every day since your country was selected/redesignated for TPS.

Continuous Residence in the U.S.

Similarly, you have continuously lived in the U.S. from the date USCIS selected your country, typically several days or months before the effective date. The same travel restrictions from the physical presence apply here as well.

No Serious Criminal Record

Suppose you have been convicted of several misdemeanors or a felony in the United States. In that case, you will not qualify for TPS renewal or benefits.

Not Otherwise Inadmissible

If the U.S. considers you objectionable, you will not be able to apply for TPS unless you receive a waiver, file a Form I-601, and submit it with your TPS application. Grounds for inadmissibility may include immigration violations, criminal convictions, and medical complications.

Not Subject to the Asylum Bars

While there is a significant difference between TPS and asylum, the two are treated the same when it comes to barring eligibility. If you have posed a national security threat or persecuted others in your original country, you may not qualify for TPS.

Request Consultation from an Immigration Lawyer

TPS is subject to strict eligibility requirements. There are also deadlines for filing. If you are denied after a TPS application, you will not be able to appeal the decision.

To confirm your eligibility for TPS and assistance with the application process, you should consult an experienced immigration lawyer such as Moffitt Law. Contact us today for professional assistance.


Is TPS equivalent to seeking asylum?

No. TPS is only available to people who are from certain countries. However, anyone can apply for asylum in the U.S. You may be eligible to apply for permanent residency if granted asylum.

How long does TPS last?

There is no set period for TPS. However, the Secretary of Homeland Security usually announces a timeframe with a specific end date.

What if I have TPS and I want to work?

You can work if you have been granted TPS status in the U.S. To request employment authorization, you will need to complete Form I-765. This can be done at the same time that you apply for TPS.

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