U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that it is extending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designations for Nicaragua and Honduras for 18 months. TPS statuses for these countries will be effective through July 5, 2013. The agency published new Federal Register notices on November 4 offering guidance on eligibility to re-register, fees, and filing procedures.
TPS is a temporary immigration status granted to eligible nationals of certain designated countries. It is available to people already present in the United States, not as a means of entering the country. Countries selected for TPS usually have some condition making it unsafe for people to return, such as a natural disaster or armed conflict. Since 2003, the Secretary of Homeland Security has had authority to designate countries for TPS and to grant, extend, and terminate TPS designations. USCIS, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has responsibility for administering the program.
TPS beneficiaries may remain in the country and obtain authorization for employment while their TPS status is in effect. Once TPS status expires, they revert to whatever immigration status they had previously. A person present in the U.S. illegally might be able to remain under a TPS designation, but would have no further benefit once the TPS designation expired. A TPS designation cannot, in and of itself, lead to a green card or some other permanent benefit.
USCIS currently administers TPS designations for nationals of six countries: El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Haiti, Somalia, and Sudan. Guatemala and Pakistan have requested TPS designations. Both Honduras and Nicaragua were selected for inclusion in the TPS program because of the devastation to the region by Hurricane Mitch in 1998, which killed at least 11,000 people and caused an estimated $6.2 billion in damage. In extending TPS for Honduras, DHS noted that “[t]here continues to be a substantial, but temporary, disruption of living conditions in Honduras resulting from Hurricane Mitch, and Honduras remains unable, temporarily, to handle adequately the return of its nationals.” It used similar language for Nicaragua.
Individuals may qualify for TPS if they have been physically present in the U.S. for a specified period of time, are not barred from eligibility due to criminal convictions or security-related issues, and apply within a specified time period. People currently designated under TPS from Honduras and Nicaragua can apply to renew their registration from November 4, 2011 until January 5, 2012. People renewing their registration can automatically extend their work authorization through July 5, 2012. To qualify for new TPS registration, according to USCIS, a national of either country must have resided in the U.S. continuously since December 30, 1998, and must have maintained a continuous physical presence in the U.S. since January 5, 1999.
Ohio immigration visa lawyer Gus Shihab represents the rights of people who wish to legally come to the United States, either temporarily or permanently. For a free and confidential consultation, contact him through his website or at (800) 625-3404.
Temporary Protected Status, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Extension of the Designation of Honduras for Temporary Protected Status and Automatic Extension of Employment Authorization Documentation for Honduran TPS Beneficiaries, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Federal Register Volume 76, Number 214 (Friday, November 4, 2011)
Extension of the Designation of Nicaragua for Temporary Protected Status and Automatic Extension of Employment Authorization Documentation for Nicaraguan TPS Beneficiaries, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Federal Register Volume 76, Number 214 (Friday, November 4, 2011)