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What Are the Eligibility Requirements for TPS?

Individuals coming to the U.S. from certain countries may be given Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate some nationals for TPS because of temporary conditions in that country that can put individuals in danger if they were to return home. TPS can be granted to people from certain countries who are in the U.S. or individuals without nationality who last lived in a TPS designated foreign country.

Which Countries Have TPS?

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), TPS may be granted based on temporary conditions, including:

  • Ongoing armed conflict or civil war
  • Natural disaster or epidemic
  • Other extraordinary and temporary conditions

Some of the countries that have been designated with TPS in recent years include:

  • Burma (Myanmar)
  • El Salvador
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Nepal
  • Nicaragua
  • Somalia
  • South Sudan
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Venezuela
  • Yemen

People who are eligible for TPS can seek temporary protection against removal from the U.S. They may also be able to obtain an employment authorization document (EAD), and get travel authorization. Once TPS is granted, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) cannot detain an approved individual on the basis of immigration status.

However, TPS is temporary and is not a basis for applying for lawful permanent resident status (LPR), or getting a “green card.” Individuals may be able to apply for other immigration benefits based on other eligibility, or file an adjustment of status based on an immigration petition. If you have other questions about legal status in the United States based on temporary immigration status, talk to your immigration law attorney for help.

Basic Eligibility Requirements for Filing for TPS

To be eligible for TPS, a person must meet these registration requirements:

  1. Be a national of one of the designated countries eligible for TPS, or a person without nationality who last lived in a TPS designated foreign country;
  2. File during the open initial registration period or re-registration period. You may be able to file for late filing if you meet the requirements;
  3. Been continuously physically present in the U.S. since the effective date of designation; and
  4. Continuously reside in the U.S. since the date specified. However, there may be some exceptions for brief, casual, and innocent departures from the country.

To file for TPS, you need to complete the Temporary Protected Status Application. The TPS petition will include all the necessary forms, primary evidence, supporting documentation, and initial filing fees. If you cannot afford the fees, you may include a fee waiver request. According to USCIS, the two most common mistakes on initial applications are: failing to include the fee or fee waiver request and failing to sign the application.

Inadmissible for TPS

Even if you meet the eligibility requirements, you may not be eligible for TPS or to continue TPS if you:

  • Have been convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanor offenses;
  • Are an inadmissible immigrant under INA section 212(a), including non-waivable criminal and security-related grounds;
  • Are subject to mandatory bars to asylum, including for participating in the persecution of another individual or engaging in terrorist activity;
  • Fail to meet the continuous physical presence and continuous residence requirements;
  • Fail to applicable grounds for TPS registration; or
  • Failure to re-register for TPS, as required.

What Happens After Filing for Temporary Protected Status?

After the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services receives your Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status, they will review the application forms to make sure they are complete and have the necessary filing fee. If your case is initially accepted, you should get a receipt notice to check the status of your case online. If your application is rejected, you can refile within the designation period after addressing any errors.

USCIS may contact you for an appointment notice to go to the Application Support Center, to collect biometrics, including a photo, signature, and fingerprints. This information is also used for identity verification, background checks, and approval for employment authorization.

If USCIS denied your application, you should be notified of your right to appeal. Generally, you have 30 days to file an appeal with the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO). If you are in removal proceedings, you may request an immigration judge make a determination on your TPS application.

When To Seek Help from an Immigration Attorney

Eligible nationals of TPS countries may have serious security concerns about living conditions in your country of birth. TPS can help you stay in the U.S. and get work authorization until it is safe to leave the U.S. With so much at stake, contact an experienced immigration lawyer for help. It is important to understand that not just anyone is qualified to represent you in immigration matters in the U.S. Talk to a qualified immigration law attorney for advice and for help filing for TPS or appealing your case.

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