Temporary Protected Status was created by Congress in the Immigration Act of 1990 to provide a temporary legal status to nationals of certain countries due to temporary conditions that make the return of its nationals unsafe or impossible. Such conditions include natural disasters, civil war and epidemics. The Secretary of Homeland Security has discretion to designate which countries receive the TPS classification, and its designation is issued for 6, 12, or 18-month intervals. There are currently ten foreign countries designated for TPS status: El Salvador, Haiti, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen. For more information on Temporary Protected Status, click here.
Recently, the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security announced that DHS will end its designation of TPS status for eligible nationals of Sudan, while extending TPS status for eligible nationals of South Sudan for an additional 18 months through May 2, 2019.
Regulations require the Secretary of Homeland Security to determine whether to extend or terminate a TPS designation at least 60 days prior to the expiration of a country’s TPS classification. If an extension or termination is not published within the required 60 day period, the TPS classification is automatically extended for six months. Two countries that are due for a determination of their TPS classification are El Salvador and Honduras. On September 11, a bipartisan group of 116 members of Congress wrote to the Elaine C. Duke, the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, to request an extension of TPS status for Honduras and El Salvador.
In their letter, the bipartisan group note that the conditions in El Salvador and Honduras have not sufficiently improved to permit these countries to safely receive its nationals. According to the letter, El Salvador and Honduras are still recovering from the effects of natural disasters and remain among the most violent countries in the world. The Acting Secretary is due to make a determination on the TPS of these countries in early November.
Immigration Options for Certain TPS Holders
People in TPS status are permitted to apply for certain immigrant and nonimmigrant benefits. Recently, the federal courts have stepped in and provided certain TPS holders a pathway to permanent residency. The Ninth Circuit, in Ramirez v. Brown, and the Sixth Circuit, in Flores v. USCIS, have held that a grant of TPS status constitutes an “admission” for purposes of adjustment of status under Section 245(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This ruling permits a large number of TPS holders to adjust status to become green card holders if they are eligible to take advantage of these court decisions. In order for an individual to adjust status under Ramirez and Flores, he/she must:
- Have entered the United States without inspection prior to receipt of TPS
- Currently be in valid TPS status
- Be otherwise eligible for adjustment, in that a visa must be immediately available for the person, he or she must not be inadmissible, and none of the statutory or regulatory bars to adjustment apply, and
- Live within a state within the jurisdiction of the 6th or 9th
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