On December 14, 2017, the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security announced that it would be ending its designation of Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) for eligible nationals of Nicaragua. The termination of Nicaragua’s TPS will come into effect on January 5, 2019, after a 12-month rundown period. According to a statement by the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, conditions in Nicaragua (which received its TPS designation on January 5, 1999) “no longer support its designation for TPS.”

TPS was created by Congress in the Immigration Act of 1990 to provide a temporary immigration status to nationals and other eligible individuals in the U.S. (individuals without nationality who last resided in the designated country) of countries due to temporary conditions that make the return of its nationals untenable, such as ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster or epidemic, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. Those awarded TPS may not be removed from the United States, can obtain work authorization, and may be granted travel authorization. There are currently more than 400,000 people in the United States on TPS. DHS estimates that there are approximately 5,300 nationals who hold TPS under Nicaragua’s designation.

While TPS beneficiaries cannot be detained by DHS on the basis of their immigration status in the United States, it is a temporary benefit that does not lead to a green card. However, TPS beneficiaries may avail themselves of several benefits, including permission to live and work lawfully while in the US, legally travel with advance parole, and are immune from deportation proceedings for the duration of the TPS status. TPS beneficiaries may also apply for nonimmigrant status, file for an adjustment of status (green card) based on an immigrant petition (if they are otherwise eligible for a green card), and may other apply for other immigration benefits or protection for which they are eligible (such as a work permit).

Nicaragua first received its designation for TPS based on environmental disaster grounds, specifically the devastation caused by Hurricane Mitch, one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record. According to DHS, the conditions that supported Nicaragua’s 1999 designation for TPS on the basis of environmental disaster due to the damage caused by Hurricane Mitch are no longer met, as the recovery efforts relating to the hurricane have largely been completed.

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