The process of applying for TPS protection can be daunting for foreign nationals who are facing emergency situations and upheaval in their home country. The following are some commonly asked questions and answers about TPS. For further information about this status, see the Getting Temporary Protected Status (TPS) page of Nolo's website.
The answer depends on the nature of the emergency situation in your country and the length of time for which DHS designates your native country TPS-eligible. The initial period provided is not less than six months and not more than 18 months, but DHS can extend this time if country conditions warrant it. As such, some TPS immigrants have been able to live and work in the U.S. for ten or more years, while others only for a year or two. To see the list of countries currently designated for TPS, visit USCIS's TPS page.
You have the opportunity to receive an employment authorization document, often referred to as a work permit or EAD. It will expire on the same date as your TPS status—except that USCIS frequently issues an automatic extension of EADs in connection with announcing a renewal of TPS status for a certain country. That way, it gives itself time to deal with the flood of EAD applications before everyone's right to work runs out.
In such a situation, you will have to show employers and others both your expired work permit card and a copy of the notice provided in the Federal Register, which is basically a daily newspaper of the U.S. government. Expect such an announcement within the few months before your EAD expires.
To access the register, go to www.federalregister.gov and enter the search terms "TPS" and the name of your country. You can also check the Temporary Protected Status page of the USCIS website for any updated deadlines and dates of a possible re-extension.
Yes. While TPS approval is not a grant of amnesty (or forgiveness) for prior immigration offenses, you can still apply for and receive the benefits of TPS (including a work permit) if you entered or remained in the U.S. illegally.
Yet another compelling reason to apply for TPS is that once you are approved, your period of unlawful presence in the U.S. will be "tolled" or stopped. That means that the time spent in the United States while a TPS beneficiary will be considered lawful for the purpose of avoiding inadmissibility problems. (For further information, see Consequences of Unlawful Presence in the U.S.--Three- and Ten-Year Time Bars.)
TPS does not lead to U.S. permanent residence (a green card); or at least, not directly. It is a temporary immigration status for people temporarily in the United States, to protect them from having to return to an actively dangerous situation in their home country. Even if you were to live and work legally in the United States as a TPS beneficiary for many years, there is no route to permanent residence (i.e., a green card) that will follow simply from a grant of TPS.
However, you might now be, or later become eligible for a green card on some other basis. This could be, for example, because of marriage to a U.S. citizen, a job offer and sponsorship by a U.S. employer, or a grant of asylum.
If, however, your latest entry to the U.S. was unlawful, claiming that status could be difficult. As the result of a 2021 Supreme Court decision, a grant of TPS cannot be used to transform your entry to a lawful one, and you'd thus be ineligible to use the "adjustment of status" procedure to apply for a green card without leaving the United States. But as soon as you leave for a U.S. consulate for your interview, various grounds of inadmissibility could bar your return, most concerningly the bar for unlawful presence; and you'd need to qualify for a waiver.
For more information about who can get a green card and what is required in order to apply for one, see articles on How to Get a Green Card.
Technically, yes, for many (but not all) types of jobs. But finding a willing employer could be difficult. It is a long and complicated process with a number of rules and regulations and requires a great deal of time, cost, and effort on the employer's part.
Depending on your level of education and skills, there can often be a crowded waiting list for an available visa, and employers might have to obtain what's known as "labor certification" to prove that there are no qualified U.S. workers available who can do the same job.
An additional problem arises, as discussed earlier, is that if your latest entry to the U.S. was unlawful, you'd thus be ineligible to use the "adjustment of status" procedure to apply for a green card without leaving the United States. But leaving the U.S. for a consular interview could result in your being trapped outside the country for several years, as a penalty for whatever amount of time you spent in the U.S. unlawfully before getting TPS.
For more on what your employer would have to undertake on your behalf, see Procedures to Sponsor a Worker for a Green Card.
Potentially, yes. And you should do so if you are eligible for a more lasting and established form of immigration relief, such as asylum, a green card through marriage or another family relationship to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, or even a green card through the diversity visa lottery. Information about a number of immigration options can be found on Nolo's Immigration Law home page.
One of the benefits of TPS is that, if granted, you will receive your employment authorization document fairly quickly. So it is worthwhile to apply for TPS while you investigate other immigration options that might be available to you.
If you are a foreign national currently in the United States and considering applying for asylum here, and your home country has been designated for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) by the U.S. government, you can apply for either or both. However, as discussed below, you should act quickly, and make the TPS application your number one priority.
Many TPS recipients are also eligible for asylum due to political turmoil in their home countries that causes them to fear persecution based on race, nationality, religion, social group or political opinion. And it offers a significant advantage: while TPS is a temporary immigration status, if you apply for and are granted asylum, you can apply for permanent residence (a "green card") one year after the date of approval.
But here's a good reason to apply for both, if possible. TPS will allow you to legally obtain employment in the United States very soon. Applicants for asylum are not allowed to work immediately after submitting their application to USCIS unless they already have a valid work permit. They will be allowed to work only after their asylum application has been approved or they've waited 365 days or more with no decision or outstanding, applicant-caused delays on their asylum application. They must also meet the other eligibility criteria described in How to Apply for a Work Permit While Awaiting an Asylum Decision.
Then again, if you cannot show that you have a personal reason to fear persecution—for example, you were merely caught in the middle of a dangerous situation—you could go through a lot of effort for nothing. In the worst case, your asylum application could be viewed as "frivolous," meaning you'd be ineligible for any U.S. immigration benefits.
Another issue to be aware of is that you are under a time crunch when applying for asylum. Ideally, you should apply before the one-year anniversary of your arrival to the United States, unless something significant has changed in your personal situation or your country's situation that makes you newly fear you'd be targeted. Otherwise, you will have a higher burden of proof when convincing USCIS to approve your asylum application, and you might not be eligible for a work permit.
Most likely, yes, you will need to keep track of when your TPS expires, and then figure out what you can legally do next. If USCIS redesignates your nation for TPS and you want to remain in the United States, in order to maintain your status, you might have to reregister for TPS (and pay associated fees). You will need to use the same forms and procedures as you used to apply initially.
However, sometimes USCIS will extend TPS beneficiaries' employment authorization for a period of time so that it occurs automatically, without requiring applicants to reregister or pay additional fees. (See Why Employees With TPS Might Legally Work Past Expiration Date on Work Permit.)
You can travel, but you might want to seek legal advice before leaving if you have ever been unlawfully present in the United States. If you have ever entered the U.S. without authorization or remained past the expiration date of your visa or status, you could be deemed inadmissible when attempting to reenter—and that's true even if you are a TPS beneficiary with advance parole (a travel document described below).
If you are sure that you will not be found inadmissible upon return and you wish to travel outside the U.S., the way to apply is by using USCIS Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. You will need to submit this form prior to departing. Check the box marked "I am applying for an advance parole document to allow me to return to the United States after temporary foreign travel" and include a copy of your grant of TPS or your TPS application receipt notice.
Once your advance parole is approved, you will remain in Temporary Protected Status upon your return. Without such approval, you would be considered to have abandoned your TPS. However, it will remain your responsibility to respond to all requests from USCIS, even when traveling, so you might want to have a friend or relative keep an eye on your mail.
Your travel outside the U.S. must be "brief, casual, and innocent." You cannot resettle in another country or return to your home nation without jeopardizing your TPS status.
Yes, in most cases, as long as your case is not denied on criminal or national security grounds. You can file a motion to reconsider using USCIS Form I-290B, A Notice of Appeal or Motion. However, it is highly recommended that you consult with an experienced immigration attorney, who can advise you whether it is in your best interest to pursue an appeal and help you prepare a convincing case for one.