Normally, when a non-immigrant visa expires, the holder will need to leave the U.S. and return to their home country. However, the U.S. can grant a temporary protected status (TPS) to some nationals of indicated eligible countries.
What is Temporary Protected Status?
TPS or temporary protected status allows a foreign national to safely remain in the U.S. for a specified period of time after their non-immigrant visa runs out. They can also receive an employment authorization document (EAD) to be able to work in the U.S., as well as travel authorization.
To be eligible, however, an individual’s home country must be qualified to receive TPS and the foreign national must meet the requirements set forth by the USCIS.
TPS Restrictions and Requirements
To be able to file for and receive TPS, the foreign national should be aware of the requirements and restrictions, which include:
Continuous Physical Presence and Residence
The first eligibility requirement to receive TPS is continuous physical presence and residence in the United States. They should have remained and resided in the U.S. for a period specified by the designation date of their home country.
The applicant seeking to receive TPS must also prove that they are a national of their home country that is designated for TPS. Those without nationality can also be eligible if they habitually resided in the designated country.
No TPS for Felony and Misdemeanor Convictions
A foreign national is not eligible for TPS if they have been convicted of a felony or two or more misdemeanors in the United States. Any mode of participation in inciting terrorist activity or persecuting another individual also constitutes grounds for disqualification.
It’s important that applicants speak to an attorney before filing for TPS. A lawyer can check if they have any criminal history or issues with the authorities. Filing for TPS with a felony or misdemeanor conviction can lead to the USCIS initiating removal proceedings against the applicant.
Which Countries are Designated for TPS?
The Secretary for Homeland Security designates countries for TPS based on temporary conditions such as:
- Ongoing armed conflict
- Environmental disasters
- Other extraordinary conditions
As of the writing, TPS is open for the following countries:
- El Salvador
- South Sudan
Depending on the development of temporary conditions in the designated countries, the list of TPS designations can change over time. Interested applicants must first go to the immigration website to check if their home country is under the TPS list.