January 15, 2015
Ana Maria Echiburu Tyrrell
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has the authority to provide Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to individuals in the U.S. from countries experiencing issues that make it unsafe for its nationals to return. Issues that may cause DHS to designate a country as TPS eligible include:
- Ongoing armed conflict (e.g. civil war);
- An environmental disaster (e.g. earthquake, flood, or hurricane) or epidemic (e.g. Ebola); or
- Other extraordinary and temporary conditions.
If DHS finds that one of these conditions applies, it may designate the country for TPS so that its nationals within the U.S. can apply for TPS. If approved, those individuals will not be deported and can apply for work authorization and permission to travel abroad for the duration of their TPS approval.
Currently, DHS has designated 11 countries for TPS. Most recently DHS extended TPS for El Salvador until September 9, 2016 and for Syria until September 30, 2016.
It is important to note that TPS does not automatically lead to a green card for those who initially entered without inspection (e.g. without passing through an official U.S. border or airport), even if they have an immediate U.S. citizen relative. An individual generally cannot apply for a green card unless he or she was “inspected and admitted or paroled” into the U.S. Many jurisdictions have found that individuals on TPS with an immediate U.S. citizen relative cannot apply for a green card if they originally entered without inspection, because the grant of TPS does not mean that the individual was “inspected and admitted or paroled.”
Over the past couple of years, however, a few courts have found the opposite. The 6th Circuit (Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee), Western District of Washington, and most recently Eastern District of Pennsylvania have found that a grant of TPS means that the applicant was “inspected and admitted or paroled.” Therefore, individuals with TPS in these jurisdictions are eligible to apply for a green card through an immediate relative even if they original entered the U.S. without inspection and would otherwise be ineligible to apply for a green card.
If you believe you would benefit from TPS, would like to renew your TPS, or have questions about applying for a green card based on your TPS, please contact our office to schedule a consultation.