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Can I leave the U.S. while on TPS?

By March 17, 2021Immigration
World View of the U.S.

In March of 2021, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas designated both Venezuela and Burma (Myanmar) for Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, in light of the “complex humanitarian cris[e]s” occurring in both countries. TPS will allow those who are nationals of Burma or Venezuela — or those who are “without nationality who last habitually resided” in either Burma or Venezuela — to legally remain in the U.S. for an 18-month period starting in March 2021.

TPS is a temporary status that the Secretary of Homeland Security can grant to individuals who are already in the United States and who cannot safely return to the country or region of which they are nationals or where they reside. For additional information on how to qualify for TPS and what the benefits of TPS are, see here. See here for more information about how TPS might interact with a separate nonimmigrant status.

TPS, however, also comes with several requirements, one of which is that the individual must maintain continuous physical presence in the United States. Given this requirement, it is critical that an individual who has TPS take certain steps when planning to travel outside the U.S.

What does the law say?

The federal regulations, at 8 CFR 244.15, state that the grant of Temporary Protected Status “shall not constitute permission to travel abroad.” The regulations go on to state that “[p]ermission to travel may be granted by the director pursuant to the Service’s advance parole provisions.” Failure to receive advance parole before leaving the U.S. “may result in the withdrawal of [TPS],” and could also result in deportation proceedings.

What should an individual with TPS do if they need to travel?

An individual who has TPS but who needs to travel should seek travel authorization from the government in the form of advance parole. The individual can do so by filing a Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.

Any travel should be “brief, casual, and innocent” — meaning, in general, that travel should be short and only as long as is necessary to accomplish a specific, and legal, purpose. Trips required by emergency or due to circumstances that are outside the control of the individual are permitted. However, again, travel authorization should be secured.

Note that USCIS will review travel history when an individual re-registers for TPS. At that time, the individual must let USCIS know about any periods of time during which they were outside the U.S. Failure to secure advance parole could compromise continuation of TPS status.

For more information on advance parole, see here.

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