Recently, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) filed a notice that extends Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Sudan, El Salvador, Haiti, and Nicaragua to January 2020, as the result of federal court action. Currently, there are as many as 300,000 non-citizens living in the United States under TPS. The new expiration date will allow these non-citizens to remain legally in the U.S., however, the future of TPS remains uncertain.
Prior to the DHS announcement, the majority of non-citizens covered under TPS were expected to lose their benefits either this year or next year. However, the termination of TPS was called into question by several lawsuits which seek to challenge the government’s decision. DHS officials have stated that the program is meant to provide temporary relief to non-citizens rather than a long-term solution.
In October 2018, a preliminary injunction was issued by immigrant advocates in Ramos v. Nielsen, challenging the decision for the DHS to terminate TPS for the four countries. At that time, DHS officials announced that if the injunction was still pending by March 2019, that the DHS would extend TPS-related documents until January 2020. On February 28, 2019, The DHS announced that TPS would be extended for non-citizens from Sudan, El Salvador, Haiti, and Nicaragua. Federal officials must announce whether TPS will be extended to a designated nation 60 days prior to the expiration date. If no decision is made, TPS is automatically extended for six months.
The TPS extension does not apply to Nepal or Honduras as they were not named in the Ramos v. Nielsen injunction. However, in February 2019, TPS beneficiaries from Nepal and Honduras filed a similar class action lawsuit in the federal court for Northern California. Currently, the case is pending.
Many who are protected under TPS have fled their home countries due to war, hurricanes, earthquakes, and other dangerous conditions. Although. In 2016, those with TPS only make up about 3% of non-citizens living in the U.S., the share was larger among some countries, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data. In 2016, 27% of non-citizens from El Salvador and 13% of non-citizens from Haiti had TPS.
Individuals from countries which have been designated by DHS may apply for TPS if they have entered the U.S. unauthorized or have entered on a temporary visa that has expired. TPS applicants may also apply if they have a valid temporary visa or another non-immigrant status.
To be eligible for TPS, an applicant must meet filing deadlines, pay a fee, and prove that they have been living in the U.S. continuously since the events that triggered the need for the DHS to extend TPS to the nation’s immigrants. In addition, TPS applicants must meet criminal-record requirements, including not being convicted of a felony or two or more misdemeanors while in the U.S. or engaged in the persecution of others or terrorism. Although TPS does not provide a direct pathway to permanent residence or U.S. citizenship, some beneficiaries may be eligible to apply for permanent legal status.
If you are in the TPS program and are concerned about the possibility of removal, it is important to seek the guidance of an experienced New York City immigration lawyer. 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 New York immigration lawyers today at (212) 267-2555 or fill out our contact form.