The Lowdown on Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

Part I of a series on TPS

In mid-September President Trump’s Administration announced that they are considering ending TPS, and deporting all individuals living in the United States currently protected by TPS. The purpose of this series is to inform the public on this issue.

What is Temporary Protected Status?

Temporary Protected Status was enacted by Congress under the Immigration Act of 1990, giving citizens from designated foreign countries temporary immigration status. Countries that are experiencing conditions which temporarily prohibit the safe return of citizens, or if the foreign country cannot adequately handle the return of its nationals abroad may be granted TPS. Foreign citizens who are granted TPS are given a work visa and a stay of protection in the United States.

Under what conditions is a country granted TPS?

  • Continuing armed conflict (for example, civil war)
  • Occurrence of a natural disaster or health epidemic
  • Other extraordinary, temporary conditions jeopardizing safety of foreign citizens

How is TPS decided?

The Secretary of Homeland Security is responsible for deciding which countries are to be given TPS. Before finalizing their decision the Secretary must confer with other government agencies, usually the Department of State, the National Security Council, and the Department of Justice. TPS can be designated for a period of 6, 8, or 12 months on an individual country basis. Sixty days prior to the TPS expiration date, the Secretary must decide whether or not to renew it based on the foreign country’s current conditions.

Who can apply?

Citizens of a TPS designated country must apply to be protected under TPS. In order to qualify, citizens (or stateless persons) must prove that they habitually live in the country with TPS designation. Furthermore, the applicant must be continuously physically present in the United States since the effective date of the TPS designation. Finally, the individual must fill out employment authorization documents, even if they do not plan on working in the United States.

Who is barred from TPS eligibility?

  • Persons convicted of a felony, or two misdemeanors in the United States
  • Individuals convicted of a crime in their home country
  • If you are found inadmissible due to public health or security concerns
  • Individuals who fail to meet initial or late registration or re-registration periods

Important notes

  • TPS does not lead to citizenship or permanent residency in the United States.
  • People granted TPS will safely remain in the United States until the crisis in their home country is resolved — this means they cannot be deported.
  • Nationals from TPS-designated countries do not automatically receive TPS — must apply and pay applicable fees. 
  • TPS recipients can apply for and obtain travel documents for short trips abroad without jeopardizing their status.

This information is compiled in a convenient fact sheet available for download.

Up next:

Which countries are currently receiving TPS and why they are receiving it — coming out October 6th

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