Temporary protected status
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Temporary protected status (also called "TPS") is a temporary immigration status to the United States, granted to eligible nationals of designated countries.
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 TPS 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, authority to designate a country (or part thereof) for TPS, and to extend and terminate TPS designations, was transferred from the Attorney General to the Secretary of Homeland Security. At the same time, responsibility for administering the TPS program was transferred from the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
During the period for which a country has been designated for TPS, TPS beneficiaries may remain in the United States and may obtain work authorization. However, TPS does not lead to permanent resident status (green card). When the Secretary terminates a TPS designation, beneficiaries revert to the same immigration status they maintained before TPS (unless that status had since expired or been terminated) or to any other status they may have acquired while registered for TPS. Accordingly, if an immigrant did not have lawful status prior to receiving TPS and did not obtain any other lawful status during the TPS designation, the immigrant reverts to unlawful status upon the termination of that TPS designation. TPS is not granted to persons that try to register after the first registration period ends, so if a person of a country that is currently under TPS did not register the first time TPS was assigned, then that person does not qualify for TPS.
Countries that are currently under TPS
- El Salvador — initiated in response to the 2001 El Salvador earthquakes
- Haiti — initiated in response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake
- Honduras — initiated in response to Hurricane Mitch in 1998
- Syria — as of March 29, 2012, in response to the ongoing Syrian Civil War
- Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone — as of Nov 20, 2014, in response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak 
Countries Requesting TPS
- Guatemala as of early June 2010
- Pakistan as of early January 2011
- Philippines as of early December 2013
Who Qualifies for TPS
An immigrant who is a national of a country (or immigrant having no nationality who last habitually resided in that country) designated for TPS is eligible to apply for TPS benefits if he or she:
- Establishes the necessary continuous physical presence and continuous residence in the United States as specified by each designation;
- Is not subject to one of the criminal, security-related, or other bars to TPS; and
- Applies for TPS within the specified time period. If the Secretary of Homeland Security extends a TPS designation beyond the initial designation period, the beneficiary must timely re-register to maintain his or her TPS benefits under the TPS program.
An immigrant is not eligible for TPS if he or she:
- Has been convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States;
- Is a persecutor, or otherwise subject to one of the bars to asylum; or
- Is subject to one of several criminal-related or terrorism-related grounds of inadmissibility for which a waiver is not available.
Late initial registration is available for those who did not apply during the initial registration period of a country's TPS designation. In addition to meeting all of the other requirements for TPS in his or her 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 TPS application. Children and spouses of TPS-eligible individuals cannot derive continuous residence or continuous physical presence from their parents or spouses for late initial filings.
TPS and Employment Authorization
TPS applicants are eligible to receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD/card) based on TPS only if they have a pending or approved initial Form I-821 (Application for Temporary Protected Status). Category C19 appears on EADs issued while the initial Form I-821 is pending approval or denial; therefore, receiving a C19 EAD does not mean that an applicant has been granted TPS. Category A12 appears on EADs issued after the initial Form I-821 has been approved.
Denial or Withdrawal of TPS
Applicants are not eligible to file a re-registration TPS application if their initial Form I-821 has been denied or if USCIS has withdrawn its approval of TPS status. However, if TPS has been denied or withdrawn, it is possible to file another initial Form I-821. USCIS 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 USCIS approves a subsequent initial Form I-821, the applicant's TPS status will be established or restored and she or he may thereafter file re-registration applications. Alternatively, an applicant whose TPS 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).
- "Deferred Enforced Departure Extended for Liberians: USCIS Automatically Extends Validity of Employment Authorization Documents". United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. March 26, 2009.
- Jackson, David (Jan 15, 2010). "Obama team grants special status to Haitian nationals in U.S.". USA Today.
- McKinley Jr., James C (January 15, 2010). "Vows to Move Fast for Haitian Immigrants in U.S.". The New York Times.
- "DHS Announces Temporary Protected Status Designations for Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone". uscis.gov. USCIS. Retrieved 16 December 2014.