Trump Administration Ending TPS for Nicaragua on January 5, 2019; Honduras Decision Still Ahead

People who who lived lawfully in the U.S. for years, with Temporary Protected Status, will have to return to Nicaragua in 2019; and may have to return to Honduras soon.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)'s Acting Secretary, Elaine Duke, has announced an end to the years-long designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) people from Nicaragua. The reason given was that the unsafe conditions caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998 no longer exist. Also, the country of Nicaragua did not formally request TPS continuance.

The DHS did, however, set a delayed effective date of January 5, 2019, so as to allow for an "orderly transition"--in other words, to allow the thousands of affected people time to consult with attorneys about whether they might have some other legal grounds upon which to stay in the U.S. (such as eligibility for a U.S. green card) and if not, to sell their houses, give notice to their landlords and employers, book travel, and make other return arrangements.

In a separate announcement on the same day, Ms. Duke stated that she will need additional information before making a decision on whether to extend the TPS designation for Honduras (which was set to expire on January 5, 2018). To allow for such time, the TPS designation for Honduras will be extended for six months, until July 5, 2018.

Obviously, Ms. Duke could eventually decide not to further extend the TPS designation for Honduras, in which case July 5 of 2018 will become its termination date.

Many advocates have pointed out the difficulty now facing citizens of Nicaragua, who have been in the U.S. for decades; long enough to become well-settled, with family members who are in many cases U.S. citizens. In light of this, Ms. Duke also called on Congress to pass a "permanent solution for this inherently temporary program." That language is somewhat ambiguous, raising the possibility that Congress could respond by ending the program entirely.

If you are a Nicaraguan or Honduran with TPS, be sure to apply to renew your Employment Authorization Document (EAD). You will need it in order to continue to legally work in the U.S. up to the expiration of your termination or extension period. Instructions are accessible via the TPS page of USCIS website.

Effective date: November 6, 2017