What is Temporary Protected Status?
As a general rule, our country lets people into the country on an emergency basis if the person comes from a country where their life is in danger, or where, in their home state, they would be subject to persecution, violence, or some other serious and negative consequence.
But the world changes, and it changes faster that the lawmaking or rulemaking process in America changes. A list of countries where people will be granted asylum today, may not be completely accurate in 6 months. Crisis in countries that deteriorate (or improvements in countries that were once designated as dangerous) can make a list that was made months ago, outdated.
TPS Status Designation
That’s why immigration law provides for temporary protected status (TPS). This is a list of countries that are undergoing one of a few disasters, or situations that make the immigrants’ home country dangerous. To get on the list, a country must be suffering from one of the following:
- The country is undergoing a civil war, which would pose danger to anybody returned to the country
- The country has sustained an environmental or weather based disaster, like a hurricane, earthquake, and the home country is unable to assist their people or provide for their basic needs
- Some other condition exists such that people cannot return to the country safely
The decision to put a country on the TPS list is made by the Secretary of Homeland Security. When a country is put on the TPS list, it remains there for either 6, 12, or 18 months, Before the designation expires, a decision has to be made whether to extend the country’s place on the TPS list.
Qualifying for TPS
Nationals or immigrants seeking entry into the United States based on TPS status must show that they are actually from a country on the TPS list, and that they have consistently and continuously been inside the United States since the designation of the country on the TPS list.
The applicant also can’t be prohibited from being in the United States by reason of having a criminal background, or something that would constitute a threat to the national security of the country.
For those who qualify, they are not automatically permitted to remain in the United States, but still must apply for TPS. If the status is granted, the immigrant will have deportation proceedings stopped, and will get authorization to work in the United States. However, they do not receive the right to receive public benefits or assistance.
Paths to Citizenship
Getting TPS, or qualifying for it, does not provide a path to being a citizen, although if the immigrant otherwise qualifies for some other path, they are free to apply separately. Someone who holds TPS status cannot automatically adjust their status, which means that they would have to leave the country and have a visa processed at a consulate if they want to alter their status in the country.
Contact the Palm Beach County immigration attorneys at Devore Law Group to help you understand if you can remain in the country, and the paths to citizenship that may be available to you.