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Temporary protected status (also called "TPS") is a temporary status given to eligible nationals of designated countries who are present in the United States. The status, accorded to nationals from some countries affected by armed conflict or natural disaster, allows persons to live and work in the United States for limited times. Currently, persons from ten countries—Haiti, El Salvador, Syria, Nepal, Honduras, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Nicaragua; and South Sudan—have temporary protected status. About 320,000 people have TPS as of 2017, the majority from El Salvador (195,000), Honduras (57,000), and Haiti (46,000).
In 1990, as part of the Immigration Act of 1990 ("IMMACT"), P.L. 101-649, Congress established a procedure by which the Attorney General may provide temporary protected status to immigrants in the United States who are temporarily unable to safely return to their home country because of ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.
On March 1, 2003, pursuant to the Homeland Security Act of 2002, Public Law 107-296, the former Immigration and Naturalization Services of the Department of Justice was divided into three different agencies under the Department of Homeland Security, namely U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. As of October 2017, the authority to designate a country for temporary protected status rests with the United States Secretary of Homeland Security.
Deferred Enforced Departure is a status similar to temporary protected status. It is active for Liberia through March 31, 2018. Liberians previously were able to hold temporary protected status.
By 2017, the temporary protected status program covered people from ten countries, namely El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Liberia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. By November 2017, about 300,000 foreign nationals were recipients of protection under temporary protected status. Some have been in the United States since the 1990s. People with temporary protected status are able to obtain work authorization every 18 months since the designation was made, in some cases for many years.
In January 2018, the U.S. Government announced that TPS status for Salvadorians would be discontinued asked Salvadorians currently living in the United States under TPS to leave the country or find another legal immigration status by September 2019. This was part of U.S. President Trump's efforts to restrict immigration and increase deportation.
People from El Salvador who are losing TPS status due to this policy change have a number of options. Salvadorian official Roberto Lorenzana[a] estimates that about half will be eligible to apply for permanent residence. Many are expected to stay in the United States illegally However, those who do choose to stay in the United States illegally are expected to be much easier to deport than most undocumented immigrants because their home and workplace are known to the government through TPS paperwork.
César Ríos of the Salvadorean Migrant Institute estimates that at most 15% of TPS holders will return to El Salvador." Some have considered moving to Canada. The government of El Salvador has been in conversation with the government of Qatar about some of those formerly under TPS working in Qatar temporarily.
The United States has made an agreement with El Salvador to limit the number of deportation flights to eight a week, each with a maximum capacity of 135 people. This puts the maximum number of deportations at 56,000 Salvadoreans a year.[b]
Business owners and local governments in the United States have expressed concern about the economic impact on industries which depend on workers in the United States under TPS. Deportation is expected to cause disruption in El Salvador and increase illegal immigration from there to the United States. A 2017 study by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center found that removing TPS status from Haitians, Salvadorans, and Hondurans would decrease Social Security and Medicare income by $6.9 billion, shrink GDP by $45.2 billion, and incur deportation costs of $3.1 billion over 10 years.
Designation by the Attorney General of a country's nationals for temporary protected status allows all of those country's nationals who are in the United States on the day of the designation to apply for temporary protected status. Anyone from that country who enters after that date is not eligible. When the status comes up for expiration, the Attorney General of the United States may choose to redesignate, allowing that country's nationals who have entered since the original designation to apply, or to extend, which merely allows the previous recipients to maintain their status until the new expiration date.
A person who is a national of a country, or a person having no nationality who last habitually resided in that country, designated for temporary protected status is eligible to apply for temporary protected status benefits if the person:
A person is not eligible for temporary protected status if the person:
Late initial registration is available for those who did not apply during the initial registration period of a country's temporary protected status designation. In addition to meeting all of the other requirements for temporary protected status in one's own right (residence, physical presence, etc.), a late initial registrant must establish eligibility to file late by showing that one or more of the late initial filing conditions existed during the initial registration period and also within 60 days of filing the late initial temporary protected status application. Children and spouses of temporary protected status-eligible individuals cannot derive continuous residence or continuous physical presence from their parents or spouses for late initial filings.
Temporary protected status applicants are eligible to receive an Employment Authorization Document based on temporary protected status only if they have a pending or approved initial Form I-821 (Application for Temporary Protected Status). Category C19 appears on Employment Authorization Documents issued while the initial Form I-821 is pending approval or denial; therefore, receiving a C19 Employment Authorization Document does not mean that an applicant has been granted temporary protected status. Category A12 appears on Employment Authorization Documents issued after the initial Form I-821 has been approved.
During the period for which a country has been designated for temporary protected status, temporary protected status beneficiaries may remain in the United States and may obtain work authorization. A person in temporary protected status is considered as being in "lawful status as a nonimmigrant". Temporary protected status does not provide a path to permanent resident status (green card) or United States citizenship.
Temporary protected status is typically designated for between 6 and 18 months at a time for each country; once that time is up, the status expires and its beneficiaries revert to the same immigration status they maintained before temporary protected status (unless that status had since expired). Accordingly, if an immigrant did not have lawful status prior to receiving temporary protected status and did not obtain any other lawful status during the designation of temporary protected status, the person reverts to unlawful status upon the expiration of that designation of temporary protected status.
Applicants are not eligible to file a re-registration temporary protected status application if their initial Form I-821 has been denied or if United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has withdrawn its approval of temporary protected status.
If temporary protected status has been denied or withdrawn, however, it is possible to file another initial Form I-821. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will treat the new initial Form I-821 as a late initial registration application. The full initial application fees must be paid for all multiple initial Form I-821s, and in Part 1 of the new initial Form I-821, Box A must be selected.
If United States Citizenship and Immigration Services approves a subsequent initial Form I-821, the applicant's temporary protected status will be established or restored and she or he may thereafter file re-registration applications.
Alternatively, an applicant whose temporary protected status has been denied or withdrawn may follow the instructions provided in the Notice of Denial or Withdrawal for appealing or filing a Form I-290B (Notice of Appeal or Motion).
On Jan. 8, 2018, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen announced El Salvador's Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation terminates on September 9, 2019. Haiti's TPS terminates on July 22, 2019.