Temporary Protected Status

Wars, environmental, and natural disasters happen. These events disrupt a nation’s ability to care for its people. When these negative events happen, the U.S. Government may designate a nation as eligible for temporary protected status (“TPS”). When the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS” or “Agency”) designates a country for TPS, the Agency will publish a notice in the federal register.  The notice will provide the registration period or an extension during which a noncitizen may file a TPS application.  

Who is Eligible to Apply for Temporary Protected Status?

U.S. law does not allow every noncitizen to apply for temporary protected status. To become eligible for temporary protected status, a noncitizen must satisfy the following criteria:

  • a national from a country designated for TPS pursuant to INA § 244(b),
  • continuous physical presence in the U.S. since the date DHS designated the country for temporary protected status,
  • resided continuously in America since the date designated by DHS,
  • admissible as an immigrant except as limited by 8 C.F.R § 244.3,
  • is not ineligible pursuant to 8 C.F.R. § 244.4, and
  • files a TPS application during the initial registration period or during a deadline extension beyond the initial registration period.

A noncitizen may apply for TPS during a deadline extension period when:

  • the foreign national is a nonimmigrant,
  • an immigration court granted voluntary departure or any relief from removal,
  • USCIS is currently reviewing an application for change of status, adjustment of status, or asylum,
  • an immigration court is processing an asylum defense, a request for voluntary departure, a request for relief from removal,
  • the TPS applicant is a parolee or has an application for parole renewal pending review, or
  • the foreign national is a spouse or child of a noncitizen eligible for TPS status.   

Although USCIS requires that an applicant prove nationality from a TPS-designated country, stateless persons, who last habitually resided in the TPS-designated country, may apply for temporary protected status. 

Can a TPS Beneficiary Work in the U.S.?

Yes, USCIS grants work authorization for a foreign national approved for TPS status. 

May a TPS Beneficiary Travel Outside the U.S.?

Before July 2022, USCIS issued advance parole to TPS beneficiaries. On 1 July 2022, DHS issued a Policy Alert in response to the agency rescinding Matter of Z-R-Z-C. In the Policy Alert, DHS explains that it will begin issuing new travel authorization (Form I-512T) for TPS beneficiaries. DHS will stop issuing advance parole (Form I-512L) to TPS beneficiaries.

A TPS beneficiary should not depart the U.S. unless USCIS approves an application for advance parole or TPS travel authorization. Leaving the U.S. before USCIS approves advance parole or an application for TPS travel authorization may cause USCIS to withdraw a beneficiary’s TPS status.    

Inadmissibility Can Prevent Filing a TPS Application

INA § 212(a) lists many reasons why USCIS may deny an immigration benefit. Noncitizens may still apply for temporary protected status even if the circumstances show inadmissibility pursuant to INA §§ 212(a)(4), (a)(5)(A), (a)(5)(B), and (a)(7)(A)(i). For other INA § 212(a) inadmissibility grounds, USCIS may waive inadmissibility for family unity, public interest, or humanitarian purposes. Unfortunately, USCIS cannot approve a waiver for certain inadmissible offenses. For example, USCIS cannot waive violations of INA §§ 212(a)(2) or (a)(3). See 8 C.F.R. § 244.3(a) & (b).  

USCIS also cannot approve a TPS application if a court convicted an applicant of a felony or a minimum of two misdemeanors in the United States. U.S. law does not authorize TPS status for an applicant ineligible for asylum pursuant to INA § 208(b)(2)(A). See 8 C.F.R. 244.4.

Reregistration Period

After USCIS approves an application for TPS status, the beneficiary must continue to re-register for TPS status. USCIS will provide the dates for TPS beneficiaries to file their re-registration application. If a TPS beneficiary fails to re-register during the authorized time, USCIS can withdraw the person’s TPS status. If circumstances cause a beneficiary to miss a re-registration deadline, USCIS will accept a late-filed application if the beneficiary shows good cause as to why she or he missed the deadline.

Is Temporary Protected Status a Permanent Immigration Status?

No. DHS may determine that a nation no longer requires designation for temporary protected status. When a country loses TPS designation, that country’s nationals will eventually lose their status as TPS beneficiaries.