Temporary Protected Status (TPS): How to Apply

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From time to time, the Department of Homeland Security may designate certain foreign nations as too dangerous for its citizens to return to safely. If your country is one of those named and you are eligible to file for “Temporary Protected Status” (TPS), your next step will be to file an application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) during the registration period that is advertised on USCIS’s TPS website.

To find out whether you meet the eligibility requirements for TPS, as well as to view a list of TPS nations, please see “Temporary Protected Status (TPS): Who Is Eligible.” 

Time Is of the Essence

Once a nation is announced as a TPS country, citizens of that country must apply within the initial registration timeline, which is usually a six-month period.

If you file your initial application late, you must meet additional eligibility criteria. One of the following conditions must have applied to you during the initial registration period and you must file for TPS within 60 days of the condition having ended:

  • You were a nonimmigrant (a foreign resident in the U.S. temporarily on a valid visa) when TPS was designated or you were granted relief from removal or deportation from the United States, such as voluntary departure, adjustment of status, or another form of discretionary relief.
  • You had an application for relief from removal pending with USCIS or the Immigration Court that was subject to further review or appeal. This could include asylum, cancellation of removal, adjustment or change of status, voluntary departure, or any other form of relief.
  • You were granted humanitarian parole, a discretionary measure used to allow an inadmissible person to enter the U.S. temporarily for a compelling reason such as a family emergency, or had a pending request for re-parole (a renewal of parole).
  • You are the child or the spouse of an individual who is now eligible for TPS.

Reregistrants Must Check Their Calendars, Too

If you are eventually granted TPS, you will need to keep track of when your status is going to expire. If your country is redesignated, then you must also reregister with USCIS during any later announced reregistration periods (assuming you intend to remain and work in the United States).

If you file your reregistration late, you must submit a letter along with your application explaining the reason why you delayed in renewing your TPS, along with any evidence you may have documenting that reason. “Good cause” for lateness is considered on a case-by-case basis, but might include illness, incapacity, or another reason why you were unaware or unable to file during the advertised period.

What Forms You Need

You must file two forms with USCIS to register or re-register for TPS: Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status and Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. Even if you do not intend to work during your stay in the U.S. and therefore do not need a work permit card, you must file a Form I-765 (but not the fee that normally accompanies it if you don't want the card).

In addition, if you are inadmissible to the U.S. for your past criminal, immigration, or other history, you must file a Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility. For more on this, see “Inadmissibility: When the U.S. Can Keep You Out.”

Along with the application, you must submit fees to USCIS. These can range widely depending on your age and whether or not you intend to apply for a work permit. For a current list of fees, see the USCIS forms website. Fee waivers (allowing you to submit an application without payment) are also available to applicants who qualify, and information can be found at “Fee Waiver Guidance.”

Gather Your Evidence

You must submit three forms of evidence with your TPS application to demonstrate that you are eligible:

  1. Identity and nationality evidence: This could be as simple as a copy of your passport, birth certificate, or naturalization certificate showing you are a citizen of a TPS nation. If you cannot find this documentation, you will need to submit an affidavit detailing your efforts to obtain this evidence.
  2. Date of entry evidence: You will need to prove that you were present in the U.S. on the date your nation was designated for TPS. A copy of your passport with immigration stamps or an I-94 Departure/Arrival Record is the best evidence here. But if necessary, you can submit itineraries and receipts from your travel into the United States.
  3. Continuous residence evidence: This is evidence that you remained in the U.S. from the effective date designated for your country. It could include employment records and pay stubs, rent receipts and leases, utility bills, school records, and affidavits from officials who can attest to your U.S. residence.

As with any USCIS application, official documents and records on letterhead are the best evidence. You MUST, however, submit documentation with your application, even if it is secondary evidence, such as affidavits (sworn statements signed in front of a notary public) or church records or receipts and bills showing that you purchased goods or services in the U.S. during the relevant time period.

Respond to All Requests From USCIS

After you submit your application, USCIS may contact you for more information. It is important to respond to requests for evidence and to attend interviews and appointments. If you don't, your application may be denied. If you haven’t already gotten your photograph and fingerprints taken at an Application Support Center (ASC), you will be required to do so. In addition, you may be interviewed by an immigration official about your nationality or time in the United States.

After USCIS has reviewed your application, it will send you notice of your approval or denial, as well as your work permit if requested and granted.

If you have any further questions about the TPS process, contact a reputable immigration attorney.

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