written by Natalia Blauvelt
We are devastated by the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, and stand with the people and families affected. This week, the Biden Administration announced it will extend humanitarian immigration relief in the form of Temporary Protected Status to Ukrainians in the U.S. We applaud this decision. But, what, exactly is Temporary Protected Status? Let’s break it down. Read on to discover everything you need to know about this form of humanitarian relief. As always, this is general information—please consult with an attorney for specific immigration advice.
What is Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?
TPS is a temporary immigration benefit authorized by the U.S. government. It allows people whose home countries are unsafe to stay in the U.S. and receive work authorization. The DHS Secretary may designate a country for TPS due to the following temporary conditions in the country:
- Ongoing armed conflict
- An environmental disaster, or an epidemic
- Other extraordinary and temporary conditions
Does TPS status lead to lawful permanent residency?
No, not by itself. However, while being in TPS status, a foreign national may potentially pursue other immigration benefits that may lead to permanent residency. To be granted any other immigration benefit you must still meet all the eligibility requirements for that particular benefit. Please consult with your immigration attorney to discuss your options.
What countries are currently designated for TPS?
Burma, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. Ukraine will be designated for TPS soon.
What are the eligibility requirements for TPS?
In general, to be eligible, you must:
- Be a national of a country designated for TPS, or a person without nationality who last resided there;
- 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;
- Meet continuous physical presence in the U.S. requirement (since the effective date of the most recent designation date of your country); and
- Meet U.S. continuous residence requirement since the date specified for your country (there are certain exceptions to this particular requirement).
The specific dates/periods of time for the registration, physical presence, and residence requirements differ from country to country. Please also check your country’s specific TPS page to see if there are any specific instructions.
What are the requirements for TPS for Ukrainians?
On March 3, 2022, Secretary Mayorkas designated Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status. Individuals eligible for TPS under this designation must have continuously resided in the United States since March 1, 2022. Those Ukrainians who attempt to travel to the U.S. after March 1, 2022, will not be eligible for TPS.
What does “Continuously physically present” mean?
Continuously physically present means actual physical presence in the U.S. for the entire period specified in the regulations. If you had absences from the U.S., please consult with your attorney to determine whether you may still apply for TPS. Having brief, casual, and innocent absences from U.S., may still qualify you for TPS.
What does “Continuously resided” mean?
Continuously resided means residing (for example, having home, paying utility bills in the U.S., etc.) in the U.S. for the entire period specified in the regulations. If you had absences from the U.S., please consult with your attorney to determine whether you may still apply for TPS. Having brief, casual, and innocent absences from U.S., you may still be able to file for TPS.
What is the TPS protection period?
18 months but the DHS may extend it.
Can I apply for TPS outside of the US?
Can I apply for TPS if I entered the U.S. without inspection?
Can I apply for TPS if my visa has expired?
Yes, as long as you meet the requirements for TPS.
Can I apply for TPS if my case is in immigration court?
Yes, as long as you meet the requirements for TPS.
If I am currently in lawful immigration status, can I apply for TPS?
Yes, you may. Receiving TPS status will not remove any other immigration status you have. For example, it will not prevent a person from maintaining her student status.
How do I apply for TPS?
You need to file form I-821 with your supporting personal documents and pay the filing fee. Please refer to your country-specific instructions when you file for TPS. Please note, though, that you’ll need to file forms I-765 and I-131 for employment authorization and/or advance parole, respectively. We recommend that people get specific legal advice from an immigration attorney before applying for TPS.
What is the filing fee?
The filing fee varies and depends on your age, whether you are also applying for employment authorization, re-registering or applying for the first time. Please refer to the USCIS website https://www.uscis.gov/i-821
I have a family in the U.S., can I file one application for TPS for all of us?
No. TPS is an individual benefit and each family member must meet the TPS requirements and file their own application.
Can I file an immigrant petition for my relatives outside of the U.S. if I was granted TPS?
How do I maintain my TPS status?
To maintain your TPS benefits, once you are granted TPS, you must re-register during each re-registration period.
What will make me ineligible for TPS?
You may not be eligible for TPS if you do not meet the TPS requirements, have certain criminal convictions (any felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the U.S.), found inadmissible, participated in the persecution of another individual or engaged in or incited terrorist activity, and, if granted TPS, you fail to re-register for TPS, as required, without good cause.
If I was found inadmissible, can I file a waiver of inadmissibility to receive TPS?
You may be able to file a waiver. Please discuss your case with an attorney.
Can I apply for work authorization when I apply for TPS?
Yes, a TPS applicant/recipient may apply for employment authorization (EAD) by filing form I-765 and paying the USCIS fee. Sometimes DHS must issue an automatic blanket extension of the expiring EAD of a specific country to allow time for EADs with new validity dates to be issued. If your country’s EADs have been automatically extended, it will be indicated on your country specific page on the USCIS website.
Will I receive SSN if I am granted TPS?
Not automatically, but you will have an option to request a SS card when you file I-765 application for work authorization.
Can I apply for advance parole (travel document) when I apply for TPS?
Yes. You will need to file form I-131 to apply for advance parole.
As a TPS grantee, can I travel outside of the U.S. without advance parole?
You will not be prevented from leaving the U.S. However, keep in mind that if you leave the U.S. without advance parole, you may lose your status and you may not be allowed to come back.
Does TPS prevent me from applying for asylum in the U.S.?
TPS does not prevent you from applying for asylum in the U.S.
Can I appeal if my application for TPS is denied?
Yes, if your denial notice says that you have 30 days to appeal to the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office (AAO). If you were placed in removal proceedings when your TPS application was denied, you can request that the immigration judge adjudicate your application. There is also an option to file a motion to reconsider with the Service Center that adjudicated your TPS application. Please consult with your attorney if you receive a denial notice.
If you have further questions about you or a loved ones’ immigration situation, consider reaching out to an attorney. Our team is very familiar with TPS cases and are happy to help guide you on your immigration journey. You can reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or book a consultation with one of our attorneys here.