When certain emergencies arise in another country, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security can designate that country’s citizens, if they are already present in United States, as eligible for “Temporary Protected Status” (TPS). TPS is a temporary designation that allows its beneficiaries to live and work in the U.S. and travel in and out of the U.S. for the duration of the emergency without fear of being placed into removal proceedings for overstaying a visa. The U.S. usually authorizes TPS in situations of upheaval due to natural disasters (such as hurricanes or earthquakes), an outbreak of disease, or armed conflicts that have made it unsafe to return.

Currently the countries eligible for TPS are as follows:

  1. El Salvador;
  2. Haiti;
  3. Honduras;
  4. Nicaragua;
  5. Somalia;
  6. Sudan;
  7. South Sudan;
  8. Syria.

It is not enough to merely be a citizen of a designated nation to be eligible for TPS. You must submit an application to USCIS within the advertised initial or late registration periods and meet a number of other eligibility requirements:

  1. Physical Presence in the U.S.: You must have been continuously physically present in the U.S. since the effective date upon which your country was designated or re-designated for TPS. This means that other than “brief, casual, and innocent” travel outside the U.S. (a short trip to Canada or Mexico, for example), you have remained in the United States.
  2. Continuous Residence in the U.S.: Likewise, you must have continuously resided in the United States from the date USCIS specifies for your country, usually a few months or days prior to the effective date. The same travel limitations from the physical presence requirement apply here.
  3. No Serious Criminal Record: If you have been convicted of a felony or two or more misdemeanors in the United States, you will be ineligible for TPS benefits.
  4. Not Otherwise Inadmissible.

It’s also important to note that if your native country has been designated a TPS nation because of violent conflict or political turmoil; you may have a basis upon which to apply for asylum. So if you have been persecuted or have a credible fear of persecution based on your race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion, applying for asylum might, in the long-term, be a better option than applying for TPS. To better assess your TPS claim feel free to contact Mazzei & Polk, LLC at (516) 280-9035.

Please note that the above is supposed to represent a brief and in no way comprehensive overview of common immigration petitions. There are many other status’ that may be available and if you feel you may be eligible, it is worth exploring.

A skilled lawyer knowledgeable in the field of immigration law can change everything. Our attorneys have extensive experience in immigration proceedings of all fashions. We can help you apply for your family or employees. In addition, we can assist those in need of cancellation of removal or political asylum and other areas of relief not known to many practitioners. At Mazzei & Polk, LLC, we believe that the laws should work to help everyone, citizens or not, and our skilled lawyers can guide you through the immigration net that traps so many.

Call us today at (516) 280-9035 for a consultation.