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Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is an immigration status granted by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to individuals of certain countries who are in the United States because they are unable to return to their home country, or conditions in the home country make it unable to handle the return of nationals. Generally, TPS is granted to citizens of countries involved in an ongoing conflict, or who have experienced a significant environmental or natural disaster.

There are nearly 12,000 TPS holders in Georgia, with more than half of our local TPS designees coming from El Salvador. While TPS holders reside all over the U.S., the largest populations live in the following states:

  • California, with around 18 percent of all TPS designees.
  • Florida, with nearly 14 percent.
  • Texas, with nearly 13 percent.
  • New York, with more than 12 percent.

1. The Eligibility Requirements for Temporary Protected Status

In order to obtain TPS, you must:

  • Be a citizen from a country that the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has designated for Temporary Protected Status. Currently, the countries that have received TPS designation include Burma (Myanmar), El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen.
  • Be continuously physically present in the U.S. since the effective date of the designation.
  • Have continuously resided in the U.S. since a date specified by the Secretary for the country’s TPS designation.
  • Not be barred from asylum or deemed inadmissible due to criminal or national security-related matters. A criminal history that prevents the TPS from being granted includes any felony convictions or two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States.

2. How to File for Temporary Protected Status

In order to file for TPS, you must submit to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) a completed copy of Form I-821: Application for Temporary Protected Status online, along with associated application fees and the required evidentiary documentation. This documentation includes:

  • Identity and nationality evidence, such as copies of your passport, birth certificate, and photo identification
  • Date of entry evidence to show when you arrived in the U.S., such as your passport, I-94 Arrival/Departure Record, or the continuous residence evidence listed below.
  • Continuous residence evidence, such as employment records, school or medical records, rent receipts, or utility bills.

It should be noted that any documents that are not in English must be translated into English and be accompanied by a sworn statement from the translator that they are proficient in English and understand the documents that were presented to them.

Once the USCIS has received your application, fee, and required documentation, you will be notified of the receipt of your application. At that point, a representative from the agency will contact you to arrange to collect your signature, photograph, and fingerprints. This will generally be done by scheduled appointment at the nearest Application Support Center. When you arrive for this appointment, you will need to bring:

  • Evidence of identity and nationality, such as a passport.
  • Your receipt notice.
  • Your appointment notice.
  • Your current work authorization, if you have already obtained one.

3. The Benefits TPS Provides

Obtaining TPS conveys several important benefits for the designee, such as:

  • A temporary stay on any deportation proceedings or detainment related to immigration status.
  • Temporary authorization to work in the United States.
  • Permission to travel abroad and re-enter the U.S. through a separate application.

4. A Path to Citizenship and Other Things TPS Does Not Provide

TPS is not a path to permanent residence or citizenship. Generally, individuals who have entered the U.S. without inspection are not eligible for permanent residence, though — in some cases — they are able to leave the country and have a visa interview at a consular post before returning and seeking permanent residence. However, for TPS designees, leaving the country for this purpose could trigger a 10-year bar on re-entry unless the designee has obtained authorization to travel abroad. TPS also does not provide public assistance benefits.

5. How an Attorney Can Help

An experienced immigration attorney can assist you with all TPS matters, including:

  • Helping you to file your application, ensuring that your information is complete and you have included all required documentation.
  • Assisting you with appealing an unfavorable decision on your TPS designation.
  • Assistance with seeking a work authorization or permission to travel abroad.
  • You were late filing your re-registration application after your country’s TPS designation was extended.
  • You were late filing an initial TPS application.
  • You wish to change your immigration status in order to remain in the country after your TPS designation ends.

For more information about applying for TPS, to explore your options for remaining in the U.S. after your temporary protected status ends, or to learn more about TPS or other immigration services we can provide for you, contact us today to schedule a consultation.