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Is TPS a Pathway to Citizenship?

Can TPS Beneficiaries Apply for a Green Card?

Temporary protected status, or “TPS,” protects certain foreign-born individuals from deportation, allows them to obtain an employment authorization document (EAD), and potentially, authorizes them for overseas travel. This temporary status gives beneficiaries a home in the US for a certain period of time, where they can work and potentially travel.

However, TPS does NOT provide a pathway to citizenship. While TPS does not provide an automatic path to a green card or citizenship, eligible TPS holders may apply for a green card. Although, there are no guarantees that a TPS beneficiary will obtain a green card after applying.

Keep in mind that not all countries are eligible for TPS, but currently, the following countries are designated for protection:

  • Burma (Myanmar)
  • El Salvador
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Nepal
  • Nicaragua
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • South Sudan
  • Syria
  • Venezuela
  • Yemen

Who Qualifies for TPS?

As we discussed before, only foreign nationals who reside in one of the countries listed above are eligible for TPS. The US offers TPS protection under limited circumstances where those foreign nationals are in serious need of a “safe haven.” That said, a country may be designated for TPS if it is undergoing any of the following conditions:

  • Ongoing armed conflict (such as civil war)
  • An environmental disaster (such as an earthquake or hurricane), or an epidemic
  • Other extraordinary and temporary conditions

If you reside in a TPS-designated country, you should also meet additional eligibility requirements to be considered for TPS. You must meet all of the following criteria:

  • You are a national of a country designated for TPS, or a person without nationality who last habitually resided in the designated country
  • You file during the open initial registration or re-registration period, or meet the requirements for late initial filing during any extension of your country’s TPS designation
  • You have been continuously physically present (CPP) in the US since the effective date of the most recent designation date of your country
  • You have been continuously residing (CR) in the US since the date specified for your country, although, certain exceptions apply

When is a person NOT eligible for TPS in the United States? You will not be eligible to apply for TPS or maintain your existing TPS if one of the following conditions apply to you:

  • You were convicted of any felony, or 2 or more misdemeanors committed in the US
  • You are inadmissible as an immigrant under applicable grounds in INA section 212(a), including non-waivable criminal and security-related grounds
  • You are subject to any of the mandatory bars to asylum, which include, but are not limited to, participating in the persecution of another individual or engaging in or inciting terrorist activity
  • You fail to meet the continuous physical presence and continuous residence requirements in the US
  • You fail to meet initial or late initial TPS registration requirements
  • You fail to re-register for TPS without good cause (if granted TPS)

Even if the elements above do not apply to you, that doesn’t mean you are automatically eligible for TPS. It is important to clarify your eligibility with the help of an immigration lawyer so they can evaluate your situation and walk you through your options. The TPS qualifications may seem pretty straightforward, but in reality, the process can be far from easy. Several exceptions and details must be considered before you apply for temporary protected status in the US.

How Do You Apply for TPS?

After speaking with your lawyer and determining that you are eligible for TPS, you may begin the application process. The TPS application process requires you to complete several forms, provide certain evidence, and pay fees. The TPS forms include:

  • Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status
  • Form I-765, Request for Employment Authorization
  • Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility (if you are deemed inadmissible and need a waiver to obtain TPS)
  • Evidence, including:
    • Identity and nationality evidence
    • Date of entry evidence
    • Continuous Residence (CR)
  • Form I-821 fees and other related fees
  • Fee waiver (if you cannot afford the TPS application costs)
    • Include this request on Form I-912, Application for Fee Waiver

Once you gather and complete the necessary documents and paperwork, you can move forward with the TPS application process. Make sure you have a lawyer on your side for this, as one minor error could result in delays or denials. To get familiar with the TPS application process in the meantime, we encourage you to read s summary of the steps below:

  • File your petition
  • Receive a receipt notice from USCIS, and monitor the status of your case upon acceptance
  • Submit your biometrics to USCIS
  • Report to the Application Support Center (ASC) and bring the following:
    • Evidence of nationality and identity
    • Your receipt notice
    • Your ASC notice
    • Your current EAD, if you have one
  • USCIS will determine your work eligibility if you are seeking an EAD
  • USCIS may ask for additional documents to determine your eligibility for TPS
    • If you are approved, you will receive an approval notice and an EAD
    • If you are denied, USCIS will send a letter explaining the reason and might allow you to appeal the denial

With all this information in mind, you can see that TPS does not provide a pathway to citizenship or lawful permanent residence, however, TPS beneficiaries may be able to apply for a Green Card. Should they obtain a Green Card, then such TPS holders could begin the pathway to US citizenship thereafter.

Question or concerns? You’ve come to the right place. Get in touch with our immigration lawyers online or at 888-4-ZEN-LAW!

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