If you came to the US from a country in extreme turmoil (e.g. Haiti, Cuba, Afghanistan), you may apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and remain in the United States temporarily to live and work. TPS is an asylum designation the US created for those who cannot return to their home countries, or would be in extreme danger if they did so. TPS can in some cases lead to a Green Card. Temporary Protected Status is initially granted for a period of 6, 12, or 18 months, and can be extended indefinitely at the discretion of the US Government.
If you need to seek Temporary Protected Status – for yourself or for a relative – I can help. You can contact me, Boston immigration attorney Giselle M. Rodriguez, to discuss your case, or read on to find out more about TPS.
Two quick notes:
1: We can meet in-person, on Zoom, or by phone.
2: My legal fees DO include the translations of relevant documents.
Brief description of the TPS process
Once someone submits a TPS application, USCIS will do a preliminary review. After this review, USCIS might decide an applicant is “preliminarily eligible.” That person won’t officially have Temporary Protected Status, but at this point:
- They are not removable from the US and may not be accused of residing in the US illegally. They also are not at high risk of being detained.
- They can receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and legally work in the US temporarily.
- They may receive travel authorization.
If applicants are later approved for TPS, they will receive the above benefits and:
- Cannot be detained by US Department of Homeland Security
- May be able to apply for a Green Card if they are otherwise eligible (more on this point later)
Who qualifies for Temporary Protected Status?
To qualify for TPS, one must, according to the USCIS:
- Be a national of a country designated for TPS, or a person without nationality who last habitually resided in the designated country;
- File during the open initial registration or re-registration period, or you meet the requirements for late initial filing during any extension of your country’s TPS designation (Late initial filers see ‘Filing Late’ section below);
- Have been continuously physically present (CPP) in the United States since the effective date of the most recent designation date of your country; and
- Have been continuously residing (CR) in the United States since the date specified for your country. [July 29, 2021 in the case of Haiti]. The law allows an exception to the continuous physical presence and continuous residence requirements for brief, casual and innocent departures from the United States. When you apply or re-register for TPS, you must inform USCIS of all absences from the United States since the CPP and CR dates. USCIS will determine whether the exception applies in your case.
One must also show continuous physical presence in the US since August 3, 2021. Though “continuous residency” and “physical presence” may sound like the same thing, there is a difference between them.
Physical presence does not mean residence. One could be outside the United States and demonstrate their physical presence by showing payment receipts for a house or apartment. The applicant could also show pay stubs covering the time in which he or she is abroad. However, any time spent outside the United States where a person has no “presence” (job, house, children in school, membership in groups, etc.) would violate the continuous physical presence requirement. The continuous residency requirement is even stricter and requires that TPS applicants live in the United States. In that case any travel outside the US would show that a person does not have continuous residency.
Fortunately, even those who have traveled abroad may still apply for TPS as long as they can show that:
- Each absence was of short duration and reasonably calculated to accomplish the purpose(s) for the absence
- The absence was not the result of an order of deportation, an order of voluntary departure, or an administrative grant of voluntary departure without the institution of deportation proceedings; and
- The purposes for the absence from the United States or actions while outside of the United States were not contrary to law.
According to the USCIS, people are NOT eligible for TPS if they:
- Have been convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States;
- Are found inadmissible as an immigrant under applicable grounds in INA section 212(a), including non-waivable criminal and security-related grounds;
- Are subject to any of the mandatory bars to asylum. These include, but are not limited to, participating in the persecution of another individual or engaging in or inciting terrorist activity;
- Fail to meet the continuous physical presence and continuous residence in the United States requirements;
- Fail to meet initial or late initial TPS registration requirements; or
- If granted TPS, you fail to re-register for TPS, as required, without good cause.
Finally, if someone has missed any of the prior deadlines to re-apply for TPS (the most recent reapplication deadline ended Mar. 19, 2018), they may still re-apply for TPS but must include the reason for their late application. After this, USCIS will determine if they had “good cause” to reapply late.
Renewing Temporary Protected Status
Once one has TPS, they must continually reapply to extend their TPS every time the US Government creates a new registration period. As mentioned, these periods can be as short as 6 months and as long as 18 months. Not reapplying in these periods does not prevent one from obtaining TPS in the future, but it does mean he or she will have to show “good cause” for not applying. There is not set definition for good cause, but medical emergencies of an individual or family member or evidence that you were misinformed about TPS are all examples of causes that might be accepted.