Immigration Law: What Is Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?

By Brett Snider, Esq. on July 04, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Temporary protected status (TPS) is a designation given to certain countries undergoing temporary moments of crisis which would prevent that country's nationals from returning safely. For immigration purposes, nationals of countries who are granted TPS may apply for authorization to work and travel within the United States -- even those who are undocumented.

What countries have been designated for TPS, and what does that entitle their nationals to do?

Current Countries Designated TPS

As of July 2014, the following countries had been designated TPS:

  • El Salvador,
  • Haiti,
  • Honduras,
  • Nicaragua,
  • Somalia,
  • South Sudan, and
  • Syria.

Many of these countries were granted TPS following a major natural disaster or civil unrest which would make it unsafe or impossible for nationals to return.

Following the deaths of thousands of Filipinos from Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, a bill was introduced in Congress to grant the Philippines TPS. Filipino nationals are hoping to convince President Obama and lawmakers to take action on TPS by demonstrating on July 4, which is known as "Filipino-American Friendship Day," reports

Applying for Individual TPS

Once a country has been designated TPS, that country's nationals can be granted 18 months of protected legal status in the United States, allowing stranded nationals to work and travel in this country without fear of removal.

Those eligible to apply for TPS:

  • Are nationals of a TPS designated country (or someone without nationality who last resided in that country);
  • Have continuously resided within the United States since the date their country was designated TPS;
  • Have no serious criminal records (like felonies); and
  • Are not terrorist suspects or otherwise barred from asylum.

Affected nationals may also file an application for TPS with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services even if they might be otherwise inadmissible (i.e., are here illegally). According to the USCIS, waivers for inadmissibility may be granted for humanitarian purposes, to assure family unity, or when it is in the public interest.

Once granted TPS, applicants can work and travel within the United States as long as their status hasn't lapsed. However, TPS applications will need to be renewed before they expire around every 18 months.

If you have more questions about how to obtain TPS or if you're eligible to apply, contact an experienced immigration lawyer in your area today.

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