Established by Congress in 1990, temporary protected status (TPS) is granted to nationals from designated countries affected by armed conflict or natural disaster who are already in the United States. TPS allows persons to live and work in the U.S., though they are not eligible for public benefits or permanent residence status.
Currently, 10 countries—El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen—are designated for TPS. About 320,000 people have TPS as of 2017, the majority from El Salvador (195,000), Honduras (57,000), and Haiti (46,000). The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can extend TPS for 6 to 18 months, though some countries have received multiple 18-month extensions. A person in temporary protected status is considered as being in "lawful status as a nonimmigrant."
The protection of 2,500 immigrants from Nicaragua under temporary protected status will terminate on Jan. 5, 2019. TPS for the largest group, 263,280 Salvadorans will terminate on Sept. 9, 2019, and the second-largest group, 45,000 Haitians, will terminate on July 22, 2019. An extension to July 5, 2018 was granted to 86,000 Hondurans, who have not been required to leave the United States since 1999.
A person who is a national of a country designated for temporary protected status is eligible to apply for temporary protected status benefits if the person:
- Establishes continuous physical presence and continuous residence in the United States.
- Is not subject to any of the criminal, security-related, or other bars to temporary protected status.
- Applies for temporary protected status within the specified time period. If the DHS Secretary extends a temporary protected status designation beyond the initial designation period, the beneficiary must re-register to maintain his or her temporary protected status benefits.
A person is not eligible for temporary protected status if the person:
- Has been convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States.
- Participated in the persecution of any person on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, or is otherwise subject to one of the bars to asylum.
- Is subject to a bar on criminal-related or terrorism-related grounds of inadmissibility.
Prepared by Ishanee Chanda, Staff Assistant, Immigrant Policy Project