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 (www.uscis.gov). The guidance below refers to the version of the form issued 07/03/19, still in use in early 2023.
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.
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.
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.
Again, these questions are self-explanatory. Enter details about your ethnicity, height, hair color, and so on.
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.)
Again, only late first-time applicants need to fill this in.
This is another section which you need to fill in only if filing a first-time application and doing so late.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here are the various items you will need to assemble for your TPS application, including and beyond the main form:
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.
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.