** LEGAL UPDATE **
Citizens and nationals of Honduras who have been granted the right to stay in the U.S. with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) will soon lose that right, according to an announcement by U.S. Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Kirstjen M. Nielsen. To allow for an orderly transition, she has decided to delay the effective date of the termination for 18 months; that is, until January 5, 2020.
TPS is a temporary status that allows citizens and nationals of certain countries to remain lawfully in the U.S. with a work permit for a designated period of time. Countries are selected for TPS protection due to natural disasters, armed conflict, or other conditions that make it dangerous for its nationals to return. The Secretary of DHS can issue TPS protection for up to 18 months and can choose to extend it as many times as deemed necessary (in some cases, for decades).
Currently the countries of El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen are designated for TPS. The Trump administration, however, has announced that TPS protection will soon be ending for most of these countries including El Salvador, Haiti, Nepal, Nicaragua, Sudan, and most recently Honduras.
The announcement that TPS will be ending for Honduras is particularly serious as people with TPS have been residing in the U.S. since 1999 when the country was first designated for TPS due to the environmental disaster Hurricane Mitch.
Since then, the protection as been continually extended. And, although Hurricane Mitch was long ago, Honduras currently faces security challenges from gang-related violence, and has one of the highest murder rates in the world.
Those with TPS from Honduras will be able to re-register and maintain their legal status and work permits until January 5, 2020. The re-registration period for people who have TPS from Honduras has not yet opened, but you should regularly check the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for relevant updates.
If you have TPS from Honduras, you should consult an immigration attorney immediately to determine whether there is way to legally stay in the U.S. after TPS expires in 2020. If you have U.S. citizen immediate relatives (a spouse and/or children over 21 years old), you might qualify for a family-based green card.
It is especially important for people with U.S. citizen relatives to consult an immigration attorney now, because you may need to travel on advance parole before TPS expires in 2020 to be eligible for a green card in the United States. Many with TPS from Honduras may also qualify for a green card under Section 245(i) of the LIFE Act if an immigrant visa or labor certification was filed for them on or before April 30, 2001. People with TPS could also be eligible to apply for asylum if they fear persecution in Honduras or a U visa if they have been the victim of a crime in the United States.
If you are put into removal (deportation) proceedings after your TPS expires in 2020, you might also qualify for a form of relief known as cancellation of removal. To be eligible, you must have resided in the U.S. more than ten years, have U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident immediate relatives who would suffer “exceptional and extremely unusual” hardship if you were deported, and meet other requirements.
Effective date: May 4, 2018