Afghan Nationals in the U.S. Protected From Deportation With Grant of Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

March 16, 2022 The country of Afghanistan has been designated for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), allowing Afghan nationals who were in the U.S. on the day this was announced to lawfully remain for 18 months.

By , J.D.

** LEGAL UPDATE **

The country of Afghanistan has at last, after weeks of U.S. public concern regarding the armed conflict there, been designated for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the decision, which will allow Afghan nationals to stay in the U.S. temporarily and receive work permits for the next 18 months. (If history is any guide, subsequent renewal of this designation are a strong possibility.)

Among the specific reasons DHS Secretary Mayorkas gave for the designation are extraordinary and temporary conditions that prevent Afghanistan's nationals from safely returning, with the Taliban seeking to impose country-wide control and Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) attacking civilians. In addition, the country is experiencing a collapsing public sector, a worsening economic crisis, a drought, food and water insecurity, lack of access to healthcare, internal displacement, human rights abuses and repression by the Taliban, destruction of infrastructure, and increasing criminality.

The TPS designation will not, however, help new arrivals to the United States. Only people who were already here as of March 15, 2022, and who were continuously present here as of May 20, 2022, will be eligible to apply for TPS. DHS estimates that around 74,500 Afghans could be TPS-eligible. Applications may be submitted beginning May 20, 2022.

It also won't be granted across the board. Afghan nationals will need to submit an application to USCIS, and be able to pass security and background checks.

People who arrived in the U.S. through the Operation Allies Welcome evacuation effort were in most cases given what's called "humanitarian parole," which lasts for two years and came with work authorization. They can apply for TPS, as well; it might be worth talking to an attorney or nonprofit organization about the individual benefits of doing so. Better yet, they might wish to apply for asylum, if eligible; see What's Better: TPS or Asylum.

For information about registering for TPS, check out these articles and at the Temporary Protected Status page of the USCIS website. DHS has issued a Federal Register notice containing the expiration date, which will be November 20, 2023.

Given current USCIS processing times, applicants for TPS are not likely to receive decisions for around 180 days after applying.

Effective Date: May 20, 2022