How to Get Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in the United States

Aliens whose countries are too dangerous for them to return to may be able to get Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in the United States. TPS allows aliens to live and work in the U.S. until it is safe for them to return home.

To help you better understand how to get Temporary Protected Status, our Los Angeles, California immigration lawyers discuss, below:

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1. Who is eligible for Temporary Protected Status?

To receive Temporary Protected Status an alien in the U.S. must:

  1. Be a national of a country currently designated as a TPS country or, if the alien has no nationality, have last lived in a designated TPS country;
  2. File a TPS petition during the initial registration or re-registration period for the applicable country; and
  3. Have been continuously present and residing in the U.S. (other than brief temporary departures) since the most recent “designation date” for the alien's country.

TPS countries include those that:

  • Are involved in an ongoing armed conflict;
  • Have experienced an environmental disaster or epidemic (such as the 2014-2016 outbreak of Ebola in W. Africa); or
  • Have experienced another extraordinary and temporary condition making it unsafe for its nationals to return.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) maintains a list of countries currently designated as TPS countries.

The listing also contains the applicable date on which the country was designated a TPS country as well as the expiration date for TPS designation and the dates of the current registration and/or re-registration period.

Clicking on the name of a country on the list will bring up a page with more specific information for that country.

1.1. Who is not eligible?

An alien is NOT eligible to obtain or maintain TPS if he or she:

  • Has been convicted of any felony or of two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States;
  • Is inadmissible as an immigrant to the U.S. on non-waivable criminal or security-related grounds;[1]
  • Is subject to a mandatory bar to asylum in the United States (such as having engaged in persecution or terrorist activity);
  • Fails to meet the requirement of both physical presence and continuous residence in the U.S.; or
  • Fails to timely register or re-register for TPS without good cause.

1.2. What if I am inadmissible to the U.S.?

If an alien is aware of a waivable ground of inadmissibility, he or she must also submit a Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility. If USCIS has already waived the inadmissibility (for instance, with a prior TPS application) the alien does not need to reapply for the waiver.

USCIS will usually grant a waiver of inadmissibility:

  • For humanitarian purposes,
  • To keep families together, or 
  • When it is in the public interest.

It costs $930 to file a Form I-601 inadmissibility waiver request, but a fee waiver may be available.

2. How do I apply for TPS?

To obtain TPS, an alien should first confirm that his or her country is currently on the TPS list.

Then the alien should complete and submit:

  1. Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status,
  2. Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (whether or not employment is desired),
  3. A Form I-601 inadmissibility waiver request, if needed, and
  4. All applicable fees or an I-192 Fee Waiver Request.

3. How much does it cost to apply for temporary protected status?

First-time TPS applicants must submit a $50 fee with their Form I-821. There is no Form I-821 fee for re-registration.

Applicants age 14 and older must also pay an $85 fee for biometric services (fingerprinting, background check and other verification of identity).

All applicants must also file a Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Document (EAD), even if they don't need or want an EAD. There is a filing fee of $410 for the Form I-765, but a fee waiver may be requested.

And finally, if the alien is inadmissible to the U.S., he or she must also apply for a Form I-601 Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility. The I-601 waiver requires an additional filing fee of $930, though a fee waiver may be available.

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4. What evidence do I need to submit with my application?

When filing an initial TPS application, an alien must submit evidence of:

  1. His or her identity and nationality;
  2. The date on which the alien entered the United States; and
  3. Continuous residence (CR) in the U.S. since the CR date specified for the alien's country.

Documents must either be in English or accompanied by a complete English translation. The translator must certify that:

  • He or she is competent both in English and the foreign language used in the original document; and
  • The translation is true and correct to the best of his or her ability, knowledge and belief.

For a complete listing of evidence that satisfies these requirements, please see the USCIS TPS page linked to above.

5. What benefits does TPS confer?

During the period of temporary protected status, an alien with TPS:

  • Is not removable (deportable) from the U.S.;
  • Can obtain an employment authorization document; and
  • Can be granted travel authorization.

Note, however, that people with TPS do not automatically become lawful permanent residents (green card holders) or obtain other immigration benefits.

But if they are they are otherwise eligible people with TPS may:

  • Apply for nonimmigrant status;
  • File for adjustment of status (a green card) based on an immigrant petition; or
  • Apply for any other immigration benefit or protection for which the individual is eligible.

Need help staying in the U.S.? Call us…

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If you or someone you know needs help staying in the U.S., we invite you to contact us for a free consultation.

Our experienced California immigration attorneys know many ways to fight deportation and keep you in the U.S. lawfully.

And if you've been charged with a crime that can get you deported or an "inadmissible" offense, our California criminal defense lawyers may be able to help you avoid the immigration consequences of a criminal conviction.

Call us at (855) 396-0370 to speak to a criminal or immigration lawyer today.

Or complete the form on this page and a lawyer will contact you at a convenient time.

Legal references:

  1. See Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) section 212(a).

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