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Temporary Protected Status Immigration Attorney

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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

Update: TPS Granted To Venezuela And Burma (Myanmar) 

On March 8, 2021, Venezuelans living in the United States were granted Temporary Protected Status for 18 months, up through September 9, 2022. Registration for TPS benefits began the next day, March 9, 2021 and will be open until September 5, 2021.

On March 15, 2021, Burmese living in the United States were granted Temporary Protected Status for 18, up through September 13, 2022. The registration period for Burmese TPS benefits has not yet been announced

Applicants from both nations will need to pass security and background checks.

If they are successful, like beneficiaries from other countries, Venezuelans and Burmese residing in the United States will qualify for work permits and protection from deportation.

WHY WAS TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS GRANTED TO VENEZUELA?

According to the head of the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, Venezuela is facing a humanitarian crisis that is marked by:

  • Widespread hunger and malnutrition
  • Economic collapse and a crumbling infrastructure
  • Increasing threats from non-state armed groups
  • Limited access to health care amid the Coronavirus pandemic
  • Political repression and violent crackdowns on free speech.

An estimated 320,000 Venezuelan immigrants are eligible to apply.

WHY WAS TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS GRANTED TO BURMA?

Burma, also known as Myanmar, is likewise in the throes of a humanitarian and civil crisis.

Following a military takeover on February 1, 2021, the country’s elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and other members of her party, have been imprisoned at an unknown location.

Peaceful protests led by teachers, lawyers, students, and government employees have been met with the indiscriminate use of lethal violence and physical intimdation.

Thousands of citizens have been forced to leave their homes.  Families and children are in critical need of food, medical supplies, and shelter.  Meanwhile, the military has cut off their access to life-saving assistance, disrupted flights carryin humanitarian and medical aid, and spurred an economic crisis.

It is estimated that 1,600 Burmese citizens will be eligible to apply for TPS benefits.

TPS In 2021: Nearing The End
Or A New Beginning?

The end of the Temporary Protected Status is an issue that has all TPS beneficiaries, past or present, a bit nervous.

Even those who, like you, are still receiving TPS benefits.

After all, 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.

On this page, we’re going to outline why TPS for certain countries may be nearing an end, as well the possibility of a new beginning for beneficiaries who hope to become permanent residents of the United States.

Table Of Contents

To guide you through the TPS process, here is an outline of the topics discussed on this page:

OVERVIEW OF TPS ISSUES TODAY

  • What Is The Current Status Of The Temporary Protected Status Program?
  • Legal And Political Battles Over TPS

ONGOING TPS PROBLEMS AND CHALLENGES

  • The TPS Lawsuits And The Lingering Danger Of TPS Termination
  • Does Temporary Protected Status Lead To Permanent Residence And Green Cards?
  • What Happens If TPS Expires?
  • TPS Dates At A Glance

ESSENTIAL FACTS ABOUT THE TPS PROGRAM

  • What is Temporary Protected Status?
  • Why Was TPS Created?
  • Temporary Protected Status Requirements

THE STORY OF TPS

  • Which Countries Still Have Temporary Protected Status?
  • Looking Back: A Short History Of Temporary Protected Status
  • Alternatives To TPS: Deferred Departure And Voluntary Departure

The various sections, which can found below, are independent from each other. Feel free to skip to the section you’re most interested in learning about.

What Is The Current Status Of The Temporary Protected Status Program?

Confusion about the future of the TPS program fuels the worries and fears of many immigrants and their families.

One day, there are news reports that TPS programs will soon be terminated or that lawsuits have been filed to prevent beneficiaries from winning green cards.

A few days later, breaking stories announce that paths to permanent residence are soon to open up.

It’s difficult, at best, to know what to believe.

Is TPS about to end? What are the chances the program will survive?

The reason for such confusion is that there are three major legal and political battles taking place over the Temporary Protected Status program, all at the same time.

  • The TPS Lawsuits
  • The Supreme Court Case
  • The Biden Plan

Let’s explore these in more detail.

Legal And Political Battles Over TPS

Three Lawsuits Related To The Trump Administration’s Efforts To Terminate TPS

After the Trump Administration announced plans to end certain TPS programs, a long series of court battles began.  Having won a favorable ruling in late 2020, TPS holders expected the worse.

On December 7, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security announced that TPS has been extended for the six countries which faced termination.  The extension will end on October 4, 2021. The six countries are El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Sudan.

The Split Among Federal Courts About Whether TPS Is A Path To a Green Card

For several years, federal appellate courts in different districts reached contradictory decisions regarding whether TPS recipients may seek adjustment of status to legal residence.

On January 8, 2021, the Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal from a Third Circuit Court of Appeals decision.  The court denied the eligibility of TPS beneficiaries to seek permanent residence on the basis they lack a lawful admission at the time of their initial entry.

The Biden Plan Which Hopes To Create A Path To Permanent Residency For TPS Recipients

The U.S. Citizenship Act was introduced by President Biden on January 20, 2021.  Under this program, TPS grantees would become eligible to apply for green cards. They would also be allowed to apply for citizenship after three years in permanent resident status.

For TPS holders, under any of these roads to legalization, the possibility of success is not guaranteed and various requirements – some known, some unknown at present – have the potential to trip you up.

  • Unless you fight back – unless you look into every possible option to stop the government from trying to deny you legal status and 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.

The TPS Lawsuits And The Lingering Danger Of TPS Termination

The Ongoing Danger Of TPS Termination

At present, the future of the Temporary Protected Status program faces extinction.  As a result of the Trump Administration’s efforts to end TPS, its life or death battle is being carried out in courtrooms across the United States.

Based on a recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision issued September 14, 2020, TPS recipients from Honduras, Nepal, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan have been facing a termination by early 2021.

By agreement between the parties, the order also applies to TPS beneficiaries from Honduras and Nepal.  For now, Haitians remain temporarily shielded from the Ninth Circuit’s ruling because of a nationwide order in a separate New York case.

However, as noted above, the Department of Homeland Security has granted a nine-month extension to October 2021.

Despite the incoming Biden’s administration verbal commitments to the TPS program, it is not clear how the change of political leadership will impact Temporary Protected Status beneficiaries.

A Short History Of The Ongoing Legal Battles

To better understand the current situation facing TPS families, a short history of these cases is provided below.

There are three TPS-related lawsuits.

These lawsuits have played a major role in determining whether the Temporary Protected Status program continues to survive or is eliminated.

On March 12, 2018, a lawsuit, Ramos v. Nielsen, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on behalf of TPS beneficiaries from Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador.

The complaint alleged the government’s action forces the U.S. citizen children of TPS holders to choose between leaving the country or living without their parents in violation of the Due Process Clause.  On Oct. 3, 2018, the District Court enjoined the Department of Homeland Security from enforcing the decisions to terminate TPS for the four nations.  The case is ongoing.

On March 15, 2018, a federal lawsuit, Saget v. Trump, was filed on behalf of Haitian Temporary Protected Status holders in Brooklyn, New York.  The hearings began on January 7, 2019.  Three months later, on April 11, 2019, the court issued a nationwide preliminary injunction against the termination of TPS for Haiti.

The lawsuit alleged the Trump administration violated the Constitution when it ended the TPS protections for thousands of Haitian immigrants, and based its decision on racism and its political agenda more than actual evidence which were deleted to hide the facts about the real conditions in Haiti’s earthquake recovery.  The final decision in New York will likely have a huge impact on keeping the TPS program alive for various countries, if successful.

On February 11, 2019, a second law suit, Bhattarai v. Nielsen, was filed in the U.S District Court for the Northern District of California, seeking to challenge the TPS terminations for Nepal and Honduras.  On March 12, 2019, the court issued an order  linking this case to the Ramos v. Nielsen case, and which prevents the termination of TPS for Hondurans and Nepalis until the full case is resolved.

Then came a slight government concession.

On November 4, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security announced an extension of TPS for El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan through January 4, 2021.

The extension was based on three pending lawsuits which have temporary blocked the Trump Administration from terminating TPS for these six countries.  These cases will have a major impact on whether the Temporary Protected Status program survives.

Over 10 months later, the first higher court decision was announced.

On September 14, 2020, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision vacating  the injunction in the Ramos case. The ruling allows the administration to terminate the TPS program for El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Sudan.

By agreement between the parties, the Circuit Court order also applies to beneficiaries from Honduras and Nepal, who had sued separately in the Bhattari matter. Haitians, for now, remain shielded from the Ninth Circuit’s ruling because of a nationwide order in the New York-based Saget case.

The December 7, 2020 DHS extension does not change this ruling.  It only delays the ruling’s possible implementation.

Does this mean that TPS program is over for these countries?

It is unlikely the September 14, 2020 Ninth Circuit decision will be the final word. Legal and community advocates have stated they plan to request another hearing before the Ninth Circuit as well as file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.

The outcome of the 2020 presidential election, too, will undoubtably play a role in shaping the future of the Temporary Protected Status program.

In any event, TPS recipients should not minimize that TPS is merely a temporary program.

Even if TPS ultimately survives, the program for any individual country can be terminated.

As a result, beneficiaries would be wise to explore their options of winning a green card even if the Temporary Protected Status program ends.

Does Temporary Protected Status 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, Ramirez v. Brown, a 2017 court decision, held that under Temporary Protected Status, a beneficiary is deemed to be in lawful status.

This means a grant of TPS constitutes a lawful admission and inspection for the purposes of applying for permanent residence.

To date, 20 states have agreed that TPS creates a pathway to legal residency.  9 states have disagreed.  The issue is now before the Supreme Court.

What Happens If 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.

Some TPS grantees have sought protection in Canada and left the U.S. in recent years.

With the possibility of positive changes under the Biden administration, such an action should be carefully examined before being actually embarked upon.

TPS Dates At A Glance

Because of the various court cases, many of the dates noted below have been frozen and reflect dates from past years. Most likely, either legally or politically, these dates will be adjusted.

1. El Salvador TPS
TPS First Designation Date: March 9, 2001
Most Recent Registration Period: January 18, 2018 – March 19, 2018
TERMINATION Pending October 4, 2021 Extension

2. Haiti TPS
TPS First Designation Date: January 21, 2010
Most Recent Registration Period: January 18, 2018 – March 19, 2018
TERMINATION Pending Ocotber 4, 2021 Extension

3. Honduras TPS
TPS First Designation Date: January 5, 1999
Most Recent Registration Period: June 5, 2018 – August 6, 2018
TERMINATION Pending October 4, 2021 Extension

4. Nepal TPS
TPS First Designation Date: June 24, 2015
Most Recent Registration Period: May 22, 2018 – July 23, 2018
TERMINATION Pending October 4, 2021 Extension

5. Nicaragua TPS
TPS First Designation Date: January 5, 1999
Most Recent Registration Period: December 15, 2017 – February 13, 2018
TERMINATION Pending October 4, 2021 Extension

6. Somalia TPS
TPS First Designation Date: September 16, 1991
Most Recent Registration Period: March 11, 2020 – May 11, 2020
Current Expiration Date: September 17, 2021

7. Sudan TPS
TPS First Designation Date: November 4, 1997
Most Recent Registration Period: October 11, 2017 – December 11, 2017
TERMINATION Pending October 4, 2021 Extension

8. South Sudan TPS
TPS First Designation Date: November 3, 2011
Most Recent Registration Period: November 2, 2020 – January 4, 2021
Current Expiration Date: May 2, 2022

9. Syria TPS
TPS First Designation Date: March 29, 2012
Most Recent Re-Registration Period: March 19, 2021 – May 18, 2021
First Time Registration Period: March 19, 2021 – September 15, 2021
Current Expiration Date: September 30, 2022

10. Venezuela TPS
TPS First Designation Date: March 9, 2021
Most Recent Registration Period: March 9, 2021 – September 5, 2021
Current Expiration Date: September 9, 2022

11. Yemen TPS
TPS First Designation Date: September 3, 2015
Most Recent Registration Period: March 2, 2020 – May 1, 2020
Current Expiration Date: September 3, 2021

At present, only four nations retain open TPS protection and benefits.

Recommended Reading:

The path to permanent residence for TPS beneficiares is slim.  These articles address important insights about potential obstacles to winning a green card not covered in this post.

What is Temporary Protected Status?

TPS, short for Temporary Protected Status, was created as part of the Immigration Act of 1990 (IMMACT).

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

Why Was TPS Created?

Since its birth, Temporary Protected Status has been one of the government’s foremost 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 for granting TPS vary from country-to-country, as illustrated in this slide presentation compiled slightly before the Trump Administration began.

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.

The Story Of TPS: Which Countries Still Have Temporary Protected Status?

At the start of 2018, 10 nations were certified for special humanitarian treatment under temporary protected status. Six have been designated for termination in 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.

temporary-protected-status-beginnings

Looking Back: A Short History Of Temporary Protected Status 

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, 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:

  • Cambodia
  • Cuba
  • Chile
  • Czechoslovakia
  • Dominican Republic
  • Hungary
  • Iran
  • Laos
  • Lebanon
  • Nicaragua
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Uganda
  • Vietnam

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.

The Liberia Experience: From TPS To DED To Legalization

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. Since that time, Liberia was accorded DED protection extensions until March 31, 2018.

A few days before the program’s termination, DHS announced it would begin a 12-month wind-down period of Deferred Protection Departure for Liberians, starting April 1, 2018, and running through March 31, 2019.

On March 28, 2019, President Trump issued a new memo, extending the wind-down period for an additional 12 months, up through March 31, 2020.

On December 20, 2019, just a few months before the end of the new wind-down period, the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act, a full legalization program for Liberians was enacted.

If you’ve received TPS, now or in the past, and you’re serious about discovering how to win permanent residence, with fresh eyes in a comprehensive manner . . .

Let’s schedule your Strategy And Planning Session today.

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