What is TPS (Temporary Protected Status)?

Temporary Protected Status, otherwise known as TPS, is a temporary legal status given to nationals of designated countries who are presently living in the United States. They are allowed to live and work legally here for limited lengths of time.

The designated countries are affected by armed conflict or natural disasters, upheavals such as such as devastating earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, drought, or tropical storms. The designated countries are Haiti, El Salvador, Syria, Honduras, Yemen, Somalia, Nicaragua, Nepal and Sudan.

A national of one of these countries is eligible to apply as long as he or she has not been convicted of any felony, or two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States, or incited or participated in the persecution of any person on account of race, nationality, membership in a particular social or political group. The national must have continuously resided in the United States since the date designated by the Department of State for his or her country.

Once granted TPS status, the beneficiary is free to travel abroad, except in the case where he or she is subject to removal proceedings. However, it is not advisable to travel abroad, especially if the beneficiary had originally entered the United States illegally or overstayed a visa, as he or she may not be allowed to re-enter the United States even if granted Advance Parole.

Unfortunately the beneficiary of TPS status is not permitted to apply for a green card. However, if an employer or immediate relative is willing to sponsor the beneficiary for a green card, an application for legal permanent residence is feasible, even if the original entry into the United States was illegal, ie without inspection.

The beneficiary of TPS status is permitted to live and work legally in the United States as long as the emergency situation continues in the home country. It all depends on the nature of the emergency or upheaval, and the length of time for which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designates the home country TPS eligible.

A work authorization card is granted to the beneficiary for the duration of the time permitted to remain in the United States, and expires on the same date as TPS status. However, the USCIS usually issues automatic extensions of these employment authorization cards (EADs) upon renewing TPS status for a particular country.