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Temporary Protected Status on The Verge of Upheaval for Many

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is designated to certain foreign countries, by the Secretary of Homeland Security, that have experienced major disruptions such as civil wars, natural disasters, or any general threats. People who live within the designated TPS countries can apply for temporary immigration status to stay in the United States. The blanket status will be permitted to these immigrants until the crisis is resolved.

TPS does not lead to U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent resident status. While TPS will not allow immigrants to become U.S. citizens, it will permit the immigrants to lawfully work while in the United States and receive travel authorization. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will also be unable to detain a TPS protected immigrant on the basis of their immigration status.

A foreigner may only apply for TPS if the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated their country as a TPS country. Additionally, a person wanting to apply for TPS must:

  • File during the open initial registration period
  • Have been continuously physically present within the United States since the effective date of the most recent designation date of the country
  • Have been continuously residing in the United States since the date specified for the country of origin

Additionally, any person who has been convicted of any crime will not be granted protection under TPS.

Currently, there are ten countries who have been designated for TPS. They include:

  • El Salvador
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Nepal
  • Nicaragua
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • South Sudan
  • Syria
  • Yemen

While Nicaragua is currently a designated country for TPS, Elaine Duke, the Secretary of Homeland Security, recently announced that they will be terminating the TPS designation for Nicaragua. The effective date is delayed for 12 months to allow for a more calm and orderly transition. The designation for Nicaragua will officially terminate on January 5, 2019.

As required by statute, in order for designation status to end, the designated country must be able to adequately handle the return of their nationals. In 1999, Nicaragua was given designation status because of Hurricane Mitch. Ms. Duke has determined that the substantial conditions caused by the hurricane no longer exist. Additionally, the Nicaraguan government has not made any request to extend the TPS status. Therefore, Ms. Duke has determined the designation status for Nicaragua to be no longer necessary.

Honduras is also currently being questioned regarding its designation status. No determination has been made at this time, as more time is needed to assess conditions, but the current expiration date of January 5, 2018, will be extended for six months, so, therefore, Honduras’ designation is currently set to expire on July 5, 2018. It is expected that the designation for Honduras will be terminated at the end of the six-month extension unless un-anticipated conditions arise.

According to Time, the end of TPS for Nicaraguans means that some 2,500 immigrants will no longer be permitted to legally live in the United States. Similar protections for other countries, including Honduras, El Salvador, and Haiti, may also be terminated. TPS protections currently extend to 57,000 Hondurans, 190,000 El Salvadorans, and 50,000 Haitians. Vox has reported that the State Department has expressed their desire to end the protections for all four countries.

Ms. Duke has called on Congress to enact some form of permanent solution to allow the immigrants protected under TPS to continue legally living in the United States upon termination of their TPS designation. In the meantime, Nicaraguans, as well as Hondurans, will need to reapply for Employment Authorization Documents in order to continue to legally work until the end of the respective termination dates. Cornell Law Professor Stephan Yale-Loehr has stated that if a TPS protected immigrant is looking to stay in the United States permanently, they should consider other green card protections by either marrying a U.S. citizen or having their employer sponsor them.

The TPS designation has offered many immigrants a life they otherwise wouldn’t have been offered. If you are concerned about the possibility of removal and are seeking advice, it is important to consult with an experienced immigration attorney. The New York immigration attorneys at Bretz & Coven, LLP have a long history of zealous, knowledgeable, and honest advocacy on behalf of immigrants. To schedule your consultation, contact our qualified New York immigration lawyers today at (212) 267-2555 or fill out our contact form.

Immigration Consequences of Criminal and Fraudulent Conduct
The immigration consequences of criminal or fraudulent conduct can be harsh and often illogical. Even a very minor offense could have a dramatic immigration consequence, including deportation, detention without bond, being denied naturalization, a visa or re-entry into the United States. Likewise, the use of fake or fraudulent documents, aliases, and other misrepresentations can have similar immigration consequences. Kerry Bretz and Bretz & Coven have been counseling non-citizen criminal defendants, as well as their lawyers, for over 20 years. We have a long history of strategizing deportation and removal defenses, as well as applications for waivers, in very complicated cases.

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