If you arrive in the United States from certain countries, you might be eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). TPS is granted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) when you face a threat to your security if you were to be deported to your country of origin. Typically, TPS is granted when your home country is experiencing difficulties or conflicts that make returning there impossible or a risk to your safety and wellbeing.
After you are granted TPS, you are protected from deportation from the United States and granted employment authorization (with an Employment Authorization Document, or EAD) and can apply for travel abroad authorization (Application for Travel Document, Form I-131).
So, does it make sense to apply for TPS and are there any drawbacks? This article helps you understand the pros and cons of applying for TPS.
Pros of applying for TPS
There are several advantages of TPS including the following:
1. TPS protects you from being forced to return to your home country if the situation there puts you in peril. TPS is typically granted for nationals of countries that fall into three categories:
· An ongoing armed conflict, including a civil war, that makes it difficult or dangerous for you to return to your home country. Countries such as Syria or Yemen fall into this category.
· Natural disasters that cause extreme disruption to living conditions such as tsunamis, earthquakes, and epidemics. Often infrastructure has been so disrupted that sending the person back to their home country is challenging. The 2010 Haiti earthquake is an example of a natural event that prompted a TPS designation for immigrants from Haiti.
· Finally, extraordinary and temporary conditions. If the safety and security of someone seeking to enter the United States would be greatly imperiled if they were to return to their country of origin due to issues that are not covered under the first two conditions.
If your country of origin falls into one of three categories above, then you might be eligible for TPS. By granting you TPS, the United States is helping protect you from harm if you were returned to your home country. To find out which countries are designated by TPS, see Temporary Protected Status on the USCIS website.
2. After a country receives TPS, any national of that country, or a stateless person who had habitually resided in that country, and who is already in the United States can apply for TPS. This means that if you’re in the United States and TPS is designated for your country, you are immediately eligible to apply for it.
3. You can apply for work authorization Employment Authorization Document when in TPS. You can then support yourself and your family without fearing deportation for working without authorization.
4. You can apply for permission to travel abroad. When you enter TPS, you can file an Application for Travel Document, Form I-131 that allows you to travel outside the United States and return without nullifying your TPS status.
Cons of applying for TPS
There are several disadvantages of TPS including the following:
1. The U.S. government decides which countries to grant TPS to. Not all countries that face war, natural disasters, or other special circumstances, will qualify for TPS. Ultimately, the U.S. government decides which countries are in TPS and whether TPS is renewed for them.
2. TPS is temporary, not permanent. Although you can apply for employment authorization and travel permits, your status is still temporary and must be renewed. This can be stressful, especially as the U.S. government decides whether to renew TPS for your home country or allow it to expire.
3. You are not eligible for TPS if you arrived in the United States after the date on which TPS was granted to your home country. This date is very important and affects your eligibility for TPS and you must also continue to live in the United States during the duration of TPS.
4. As with most U.S. visas, TPS still requires a lot of paperwork and evidence, but with TPS you must also provide proof of your date of entry in the United States and proof of continuous residence. This documentation shows that you entered and have resided in the United States before your home country was granted TPS. Evidence of this includes, but is not limited to:
· Employment records
· Rent receipts, utility bills, receipts or letters from companies
· School records from the schools that an applicant or their children have attended in the United States
· Hospital or medical records concerning treatment or hospitalization of you or your children
· Attestations by church, union or other organization officials who know you
You will also be asked to provide proof of your home country nationality. Because consular services from your home country might be limited or non-existent, this can also be a complex and difficult part of the process.
Fees associated with the forms required to apply for TPS are high, including the $930 fee for the Form I-601. Although some of these fees might be waived, you’ll need to submit a Form I-912 Application for Fee Waiver.
5. TPS does not provide a path to a green card or citizenship but neither does it eliminate any eligibility nor prevent anyone eligible from applying for citizenship. This will be determined, eventually, by the U.S. Supreme Court.
6. Finally, if you want to adjust your immigration status, you must leave the United States and apply through consular processing and you cannot use the adjustment of status (AOS) process.
If TPS is removed from your home country, that person’s status reverts to what it was prior to their being granted protective status, unless a new status was acquired during the TPS period. This could mean that you might also have to leave the United States.