Filling Out Form I-821 for TPS

The Temporary Protected Status application process involves filling out Forms I-821 and submitting it to USCIS.

By , Attorney · Temple University Beasley School of Law

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a temporary immigration (and work authorization) status for the nationals of nations where conditions are so dangerous that the people cannot be expected to presently return home. For additional information about which citizens are TPS-eligible and how to apply, see articles on Getting Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

The application process involves filling out Forms I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status, and I-765, Application for Work Authorization. This article covers filling out Form I-821.

Every member of a family wanting TPS will need to submit their own form and pay a separate fee. You don't all need to submit these at the same time.

(Note that you will also need to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with your application for TPS, even if you are not planning to work; but if you are planning to work, and need the card, you'll need to pay this fee as well. For instructions on completing this form, see Filling Out Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.)

Form I-821, instructions, and list of filing fees are available on the I-821 page of the U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Services (USCIS) website ( The guidance below refers to the version of the form issued 07/03/19, still in use in early 2024.

Line-By-Line Instructions for Form I-821

When filling out this USCIS form, do not leave any question blank, but instead write "N/A" for not applicable or "none" it it doesn't apply to you.

Part 1, Type of Application

If this is your first TPS application, check Box "1.a." If you are renewing or reregistering for TPS, check Box "1.b."

Question 2 asks you to indicate whether you applied to USCIS on your own, without having been placed into deportation (removal) proceedings first; or applied through the immigration courts, in which case you would check the second box.

In Question 3, state whether you want to receive a work permit card. See the note above regarding needing to submit Form I-765 regardless.

Question 4 asks which country you are from. Only a limited number of countries are designated for TPS eligibility.

Part 2, Information About You

This section is mostly self-explanatory. Provide identification details such as your name, U.S. mailing address, gender, marital status, birth date, and place of birth, residence, and citizenship.

Don't worry if you don't have a USCIS online account number; not everyone does. (It depends on what past applications you've filed, if any.)

For the questions about "U.S. Entry Information," you will need to discuss your most recent arrival in the United States. Put the date in Question 19, and your type of visa in Question 20 (such as F-1 student or B-2 visitor). If you entered unlawfully, you would put "no status." (Don't worry, entering illegally is not a bar to TPS.) The Port of Entry is the border post, airport, or other place you came into the country. If you obtained a visa for entry, then you should also have an I-94; either a physical card or an entry in the Customs and Border Protection database (go to the CBP's website).

For the questions about "Your Current Immigration Status," you will need to let USCIS know whether you are legally present in the U.S. (for example, as an "F-1 student," B-2 visitor," "H-1B temporary worker," and so on) or "out of status," as well as whether you have ever been in U.S. removal proceedings. If you are out of status or have ever been in removal proceedings, you might still be eligible for TPS, but should consult an attorney before applying.

Part 3, Biographic Information

Again, these questions are self-explanatory. Enter details about your ethnicity, height, hair color, and so on.

Part 4, Information About Your Current Spouse (if any)

Not everyone needs to fill this in; only do so if you are submitting your first TPS application, and doing so after the initial deadline. If so, enter identification details for your spouse and children, if any. (This appears meant to address situations where the reason for the applicant's eligibility to apply late is a TPS-eligible spouse.)

Part 5, Information About Your Former Spouses (if any)

Again, only late first-time applicants need to fill this in.

Part 6, Information About Your Children (if any)

This is another section which you need to fill in only if filing a first-time application and doing so late.

Part 7, Eligibility standards

These questions will determine whether or not you are eligible for TPS. It is important, as always, to provide truthful and accurate information here. In many cases, the penalty for lying on a U.S. government document is much harsher than it would be if you revealed criminal convictions or immigration violations. (But again, you should see an attorney for a full analysis.)

Questions 1-7. These questions about nationality and dates of entry and travel appear simple, but are important because you must be a national of a TPS-eligible country and have been physically present on the effective date for your country as well as continuously present since the date that was specified (and provide evidence backing all of this up).

To see the dates that apply for your country, go to USCIS's Temporary Protected Status page and click on your country's name.

Questions 8-41. You will be asked about your criminal history, immigration violations, medical problems, and other issues. You are asked these in order to determine whether you are eligible for TPS, are not subject to the mandatory asylum bars, and are not "inadmissible" to the United States.

These are serious questions: If, for example, you have been convicted of a felony or two or more misdemeanors, or of a "particularly serious" crime or a "serious nonpolitical crime" outside of the United States, or are considered a threat to national security, or are involved in drug trafficking, espionage, or terrorism, or have persecuted others, or you are a member of the Communist or Nazi Party (and the list goes on), you will not be eligible for TPS and should not submit Form I-821.

If you need to answer "yes" to any of these questions, consult an attorney before continuing with the application. You will be expected to fill out Part 11 of the form explaining the circumstances of your situation.

If a waiver is available for your situation, you will need to USCIS Form I-601 along with your TPS application. See How to Prepare Form I-601 to Request a Waiver of Admissibility.

Part 8, Applicant's Statement, Contact Information, Certification, and Signature

If you are fluent in English, check the first box and certify that you understand all your questions, instructions, and the answers you have given. If you received help with the application from someone who is fluent in English, write your native language in the space provided and check the box 1.b. Sign and date the application and provide a phone number and email address where you can be reached. And if someone else filled out the application (such as a legal assistant) put that person's name in box 2.

Part 9, Interpreter's Contact Information, Certification, and Signature

Your interpreter must sign here if you checked the second box in Part 8. Make sure that your interpreter is fluent in both your native language and English! You are responsible for your answers to every question in your application.

Part 10, Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature of the Person Preparing this Application, if Other Than the Applicant

If someone else (such as an attorney or legal assistant) prepared this form for you, the attorney must complete this section. Otherwise, leave it blank.

Part 11, Additional Information

Here's where you can add whatever didn't fit in the main form.

Checklist for Filing Application for TPS

Here are the various items you will need to assemble for your TPS application, including and beyond the main form:

  • Form I-821
  • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization and required supporting documentation. Your eligibility category is (a)(12).
  • Form I-131 if you'd like a travel document for reentering the United States after foreign trips, plus filing fee. Your travel doesn't need to be for any particular or urgent reason.
  • Form I-601, Application for Waiver of the Grounds of Admissibility and required supporting documentation (only if you need a waiver of inadmissibility) with the appropriate filing fee ($930 as of early 2024) or a Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver (with supporting documents, as discussed below).
  • Filing fees for Form I-821 and I-765, or if you can't afford these, Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver. You need to submit a fee for Form I-821 and biometrics only if you are initially registering, but you will need to pay a fee for your work permit every time you request one. The fees vary depending on your age and whether or not you are requesting an actual work permit card. Check for the latest on the Forms page of the USCIS website; a fee hike is expected in April of 2024.
  • Supporting documents, including:
    • Identity or nationality evidence. Provide a copy of all the pages of your passport or copies of your birth certificate and a photo ID or your national ID card. If you do not have any of these, you may submit secondary evidence such as religious, school, or medical records or affidavits from friends and family members, but expect to be interviewed regarding your eligibility.
    • Date of entry evidence. Provide a copy of I-94 Arrival/Departure record, or copies of immigration stamps on your passport if available. Otherwise, travel itineraries and receipts can work as well. Remember, you need to have been present in the U.S. on the date TPS was designated (or redesignated) for your country.
    • Continuous residence evidence. You will need to submit evidence showing that you continuously resided in the U.S. during the advertised period, except for any brief, innocent, and casual departures. Such evidence includes records and pay stubs, rent receipts and leases, utility bills, school records, and affidavits from officials who can attest to your U.S. residence.
    • Evidence showing good cause for late application. If you are filing your first application for TPS late, you will need to show that during the registration period you were in another valid U.S. immigration status, granted another form of immigration relief, or that an application for immigration relief or adjustment was pending with USCIS. You must also file within 60 days of that condition ending. Submit evidence of this such as a copy of a visa, order from the immigration judge, or USCIS receipt notice. If you are renewing your TPS late, you should provide evidence that you were unable or unaware that you needed to file earlier.
    • If requesting a fee waiver, documents showing your inability to
      pay the required fee. These could include, for example, copies of official letters or documents showing that you're receiving unemployment benefits or need-based public benefits. (Of course, USCIS can say no; in which case you'll be given some time in which to pay the fee in order to have your application go forward.)

Documents in another language will need to be fully translated into English as well. See this Sample Format for Translating Non-English Documents for Immigration Applications.

Submitting Form I-821 to USCIS

After you have completed the application, make a copy for your files if you plan to send it by mail. Filing online is also an option (unless you also need to ask for a waiver of the fee because you can't afford it; see Filling Out Form I-912 for an Immigration Fee Waiver; and submit the whole thing by mail.)

The exact address to mail your TPS application to depends on your state of residence and country of origin.

Consult the I-821 page of the USCIS website for a mailing address or online submission information and a list of current filing fees.

After submitting your application, be sure to monitor USCIS processing, which can take months.

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