If you have ever, now or in the past, been granted TPS status . . .
Now is the time to figure out how to become a permanent resident
The end of the Temporary Protected Status is an issue that has all TPS beneficiaries, past or present, a bit nervous.
Even if you are still receiving TPS benefits.
Everything you have worked so hard for – the home you and your family live in, the car you drive to and from your job, the food on your family’s table at night, the clothes you, your spouse, and your kids wear – could be taken away, almost at a moment’s notice.
In its place, you could be sent back to your home country, a place you may not have seen for 20 years or longer, a place you left while still a child, a place which you barely remember, a place perhaps with no family members still alive.
- Unless you fight back – unless you look into every possible option to stop the government from trying to deport you.
- Unless you’re careful not to take unnecessary risks and make avoidable mistakes.
- Unless you develop a plan for permanent residence and carefully prepare the evidence you’ll need to prove your right to remain in this country.
Does TPS Lead To Permanent Residence And Green Cards?
Temporary Protected Status does not directly lead to permanent resident status.
But through marriage and other family relationships, immigrants can legalize their status while still under TPS protections.
Since the birth of TPS, the U.S. government has been unwilling to consider a grant of Temporary Protected Status as a legal admission, thereby limiting the ability of TPS beneficiaries to adjust status to permanent residency.
Recently, this policy has been challenged – and has started to change.
For instance, a recent court decision, Ramirez v. Brown, held that under Temporary Protected Status, a beneficiary is deemed to be in lawful status and has satisfied the requirements of inspection and admission for the purposes of applying for permanent residence.
What Happens When TPS Expires?
When your TPS designation ends, you return to the same immigration status you had before you registered for TPS (unless you were able to become a permanent resident).
This means you lose not only your right to work, but also your right to live legally in the U.S. You could be deported.
Yet, even after your TPS status expires, there’s no need to simply give up.
Under the new court decisions, new paths to winning green cards have emerged – including some that may help you win permanent residence.
What Countries Have Temporary Protected Status?
At present, 10 nations are certified for special humanitarian treatment under temporary protected status. Six are designated for termination by 2019.
Only immigrants from designated countries are eligible to seek TPS benefits. Once TPS designations are terminated, immigrants from those countries are no longer entitled to TPS benefits.
The number of eligible immigrants varies country-by-country. TPS population estimates range from a low of 300 Somalians to a high of nearly 200,000 Salvadoreans.
Since countries are awarded TPS at different times, their expiration and re-registration dates also vary.
TPS Dates At A Glance
1. El Salvador
TPS First Designation Date: March 9, 2001
Most Recent Registration Period: January 18, 2018 – March 19, 2018
Current TERMINATION Date: September 9, 2019
TPS First Designation Date: January 10, 2010
Most Recent Registration Period: January 18, 2018 – March 19, 2018
Current TERMINATION Date: July 22, 2019
TPS First Designation Date: January 5, 1999
Most Recent Registration Period: June 5, 2018 – August 6, 2018
Current TERMINATION Date: January 5, 2020
TPS First Designation Date: June 24, 2015
Most Recent Registration Period: May 22, 2018 – July 23, 2018
Current TERMINATION Date: June 24, 2019
TPS First Designation Date: January 5, 1999
Most Recent Registration Period: December 15, 2017 – February 13, 2018
Current TERMINATION Date: January 5, 2019
TPS First Designation Date: September 16, 1991
Most Recent Registration Period: January 17, 2017 – March 20, 2017
Current Expiration Date: September 17, 2018
TPS First Designation Date: November 4, 1997
Most Recent Registration Period: October 11, 2017 – December 11, 2017
Current TERMINATION Date: November 2, 2018
8. South Sudan
TPS First Designation Date: November 3, 2011
Most Recent Registration Period: September 21, 2017 – November 20, 2017
Current Expiration Date: May 2, 2019
TPS First Designation Date: March 29, 2012
Most Recent Registration Period: August 1, 2016 – September 30, 2016
Current Expiration Date: September 30, 2019
TPS First Designation Date: September 3, 2015
Most Recent Registration Period: January 4, 2017 – March 6, 2017
Current Expiration Date: March 3, 2020
TPS Under The Trump Administration
From the outset of the Trump Presidency, there was speculation that his administration would seek to eliminate the entire Temporary Protected Status program as part of its restrictive immigration policies.
These fears were amplified on March 24, 2017 when the Department of Homeland Security announced the decision to extend TPS protection for Haiti only up through January 22, 2018, a six-month period, while the agency reviewed its whether to grant another full extension for Haitian nationals. Many legal commentators predicted this would be the final Haiti TPS extension.
It was also thought the Haiti decision was the forerunner of a wider effort by the Trump Administration to shut down the TPS program completely.
On September 18, 2017, the administration provided a mixed message for TPS observers. TPS for South Sudan was extended for a full 18-month period up through May 2, 2019. Yet, Sudan TPS was terminated, effective November 2, 2018.
Public focus turned to the countries with the largest number of TPS beneficiaries – El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti – in January 2018, as all three faced imminent re-registration dates.
The fears became reality, as the three countries have been served with termination notices.
At present, only four nations retain open TPS protection and benefits. It is likely they will also be placed on the president’s chopping block.
UPDATE: Recent And Pending Termination Of TPS For Various Countries
As the chart above shows, if you’re from one of the presently-designated TPS countries, you must keep track of important cut-off dates, especially the expiration date.
If TPS is going to be renewed for your country, the new registration period usually begins about three months before your status expires.
Here is a list of the key expiration dates to keep in mind.
- September 17, 2018
- November 2, 2018 **TERMINATE**
- January 5, 2019 **TERMINATE**
- May 2, 2019
- June 24, 2019 **TERMINATE**
- July 22, 2019 **TERMINATE**
- September 9, 2019 **TERMINATE**
El Salvador TPS
- September 30, 2019
- January 5, 2020 **TERMINATE**
- March 3, 2020
What is Temporary Protected Status?
TPS, short for Temporary Protected Status, was created as part of the Immigration Act of 1990 (IMMACT). Since that time, it has been one of the government’s special immigration programs, serving U.S. humanitarian or abuse protection goals.
TPS allows the Attorney General to provide immigrants with a temporary lawful immigration status if they are unable to safely return to their home country due to an environmental disaster, armed conflict, or other severe conditions.
The reasons vary from country-to-country, as illustrated in this slide presentation compiled slightly before the Trump Administration began.
While granted TPS status, immigrants are allowed to stay in the United States and obtain work authorization.
Those who qualify are:
- Given valid immigration status for a temporary period
- Eligible to obtain a work permit and work legally in the U.S.
- Able to stop deportation and removal proceedings initiated against them
Temporary Protected Status Requirements
In general, to qualify for TPS status:
- You must be a national of a country designated for TPS, (or a person without a nationality who last resided in the designated country)
- You must have been continuously physically present in the United States since the most recent TPS designation date for your country
- You must have continuously resided in the U.S. since the date specified for your country
- You must not have been convicted of certain crimes or be deemed inadmissible due to activities such as persecution of others or engaging in terrorism
You must properly complete and file all TPS documents before the filing deadline. Late registration is allowed during an extension of your country’s designation period, if you meet certain requirements.
Once you are granted TPS, you must re-register during each re-registration period to maintain your TPS status.
Don’t be fooled by the simple application forms. Immigration requirements are not as simple as they seem.
For example, you need to prove your nationality but the building which kept your records has been destroyed. Or you left the U.S. briefly, and you’re not sure if you can meet the continuous residence requirement.
Looking Back: A Short TPS History
Since its birth, TPS has provided citizens and nationals from several nations a temporary safe haven in the United States:
- Kuwait – 1991 to 1992
- Lebanon – 1991 to 1993
- Liberia – 1991 to 2007
- Bosnia–Herzegovina – 1992 to 2001
- Rwanda – 1995 to 1997
- Sierra Leone – 1997 to 2004
- Burundi – 1997 to 2009
- The Kosovo Province of Serbia – 1998 to 2000
- Angola – 2000 to 2003
Termination Of Guinea, Liberia, And Sierra Leone TPS Status
During The Obama Adminstration
On September 22, 2016, under President Obama, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the decision to terminate TPS benefits for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
According to DHS, the widespread transmission of the Ebola Virus that led to their Temporary Protected Status was sufficient control, allowing immigrants from these nations to return in safety. Their TPS designation expired on May 21, 2017.
Due to natural disasters, drug wars, domestic insurgencies, and other extraordinary situations, many other countries have sought TPS status, but been unsuccessful.
These included Bangladesh, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Pakistan, Peru, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand.
In the more recent past, countries which were seeking TPS have included Guatemala, Venezuela, Pakistan, and the Philippines. A decision was never made whether to grant benefits to immigrants from these nations.
Alternatives To TPS: Deferred Departure And Voluntary Departure
Even before the birth of TPS, the government provided relief by suspending the deportations of immigrants from specified countries.
Two mechanisms were used: Deferred Departure or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) and Extended Voluntary Departure (EVD).
Both of these programs still exist today.
Unlike TPS, you cannot register for DED or EVD. Instead, if you or a family member are detained for deportation purposes, the protections are automatically triggered.
On the other hand, like TPS, while you are in DED or EVD status, you can seek authorization to work in the U.S.
Extended Voluntary Departure
Extended Voluntary Departure was often used before the enactment of TPS. Since that time, the government has continued to utilized DVD protection, though on a less frequent basis.
Countries which have been granted DVD protections include:
- Dominican Republic
Deferred Enforcement Departure
DED has not been used as extensively as EVD. Nonetheless, its impact has been equally significant.
For instance, when TPS for El Salvador expired in 1992, the government granted DED protections to nearly 190,000 Salvadorans. El Salvador was later regranted TPS status on March 9, 2001.
The government also granted DED to 80,000 Chinese citizens following the Tiananmen Square massacre in June 1090.
Liberians have been long-standing beneficiaries of mixed TPS and DED relief from deportation for over 20 years.
In March 1991, following the outbreak of civil war, Liberia was granted TPS benefits. In September 1999, when their TPS designation expired, Liberians were given DED.
In October 2002, Liberia was re-designated for TPS, a status which continued until 2007. At that time, Liberia was again accorded DED protection.
UPDATE: DED Status For Liberia Termination Date Set
On March 27, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would begin a 12-month wind-down period of Deferred Enforced Departure for Liberians, starting April 1, 2018, and running through March 31, 2019.