Temporary Protection Status (TPS) is a non-permanent immigration status. The US designates countries eligible for TPS and eligible residents and citizens of those countries can apply for TPS, which allows them to immigrate to the US on a temporary basis. In most cases, TPS is granted because someone cannot safely return to their country of residence or citizenship, often due to war or some other disaster.
Temporary Protection Status was established in 1990, with the passing of the Immigration Act of 1990. As of 2003, the authority to select countries eligible for TPS is given to the Attorney General to the Secretary of Homeland Security.
If you are in the US and cannot return home due to some temporary but serious event in your home country – such as natural disaster, armed conflict, civil unrest, and other situations – you may be able to apply for Temporary Protection Status if your country is listed as eligible for TPS status. If approved, you can get work authorization as well as permission to remain in the US. You will not be able to apply for a green card based on your TPS status, and once the US withdraws your country from eligibility your status will be gone and you will need to apply for a different immigration status or you will need to return home. As well, you must enter the US during the first registration period. The US does not allow this status to persons who leave their home country to immigrate to the US after a disaster. Those in that situation can apply for refugee status or another status designated for that situation. A US immigration attorney can help with such situations.
As of March 2011, countries eligible for TPS status include El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, and Haiti. In 2010, it was announced that Haitian applicants can apply to stay in the US for 18 months, no matter what their visa expiration date. This decision was made due to the continuing effects of the Haitian earthquake. Criminals, those who pose a terrorist threat, and those who do not qualify for asylum because they are persecutors or meet other inadmissibility criteria are not eligible for TPS status, even if they come from a designated country.
Eligible applicants can petition for TPS by filing USCIS Form I-821 (Application for Temporary Protected Status). This form requires biometrics, a filing fee, proof of residence and identity, and other requirements. Applicants who require employment authorization must also file USCIS Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization). Those who are accepted for TPS status must keep their information up-opt-date with the USCIS by submitting USCIS Form I-821 and USCIS Form I-765 to re-register with the USCIS. Failure to re-register can mean loss of TPS status.