Frontera Fund News Resources

Temporary Protected Status: Benefits Beyond Borders

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Carmen Cornejo
Written by Carmen Cornejo

Many immigrants to the U.S. come from countries experiencing severe hardships or conflicts that put them in crisis mode for years. These places may not be able to safely and adequately receive an influx of deported immigrants.

Consequently, the federal government has a program to shield immigrants from deportation to countries ravaged by ongoing civil war, natural disasters, epidemics or other special conditions. The program is called Temporary Protected Status. TPS is an administrative process and does not need the intervention of the U.S. Congress to be implemented.

The United States currently provides TPS to more than 300,000 immigrants from 13 countries. The countries whose citizens may be granted TPS are El Salvador, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Liberia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

To benefit from TPS, individuals must be a national of a designated country, demonstrate continuous presence in the U.S., fulfill all registration requirements, file USCIS forms, and pay a fee. They cannot have been convicted of a felony or two significant misdemeanors in the U.S., or participated in terrorism or persecution of another individual. 

The application process is similar to that of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Applicants must also get fingerprinted to ensure they are not on law enforcement agencies’ databases.

TPS applicants must file two forms:

  1. Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status
  2. Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization

As with all immigration forms, these can be downloaded for free at the USCIS site.

Recipients are required to re-register during a period of 60 days. Approved immigrants get a work permit and a reprieve from deportation. The program is renewable and can run for years.

Recently, 194,000 Salvadorians were required to re-register after that program period ended on September 6. Re-registered applicants will be protected from deportation for two years.

Economically vulnerable countries benefit from this program since they do not need to deal with a sudden influx of nationals asking for work. In addition, the legally present workers in the U.S. send remittances back to their families, who spend that money in their home countries.

Leaders of the countries whose citizens benefit from TPS want the U.S. to continue renewing the program, stating that they need the $10 billion a year in remittances to benefit their economies.