Temporary protected status (TPS) is given to immigrants in the U.S. who come from countries with armed conflict, environmental disaster, or terrible, ongoing conditions. As of June 2022, 15 countries qualify for TPS. If you are in the U.S. and come from one of these countries, you may be eligible for TPS status and benefits.
Written by Jonathan Petts.
Updated September 1, 2022
What Is Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a U.S. immigration status given to nationals from certain countries that are considered unsafe. Congress created this status with the Immigration Act of 1990. Any national is eligible for this status if the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) gives their country TPS designation. Usually, the Secretary will consult the Department of State, the National Security Council, and sometimes the Department of Justice.
The Secretary of Homeland Security gives TPS designation to countries considered unsafe to return to for one of the following reasons:
An ongoing armed conflict, such as a civil war
An environmental disaster, such as a natural disaster or an epidemic
Other extraordinary and temporary conditions
Typically, countries that receive TPS have this eligibility for up to 18 months. Afterward, the Secretary can extend the designation, or it expires.
What Countries Qualify for TPS?
As of July 2022, 15 countries have TPS designation, as listed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). They are sorted by region and listed with their potential expiration dates. These dates may change as DHS has the authority to extend TPS status for any country.
Cameroon - Dec. 7, 2023
Somalia - Mar. 17, 2023
Oct. 19, 2023, for those with TPS under the new designation, announced Apr. 19, 2022, and those covered by the court injunction in Ramosand approved under the new designation.
As long as the court injunction in Ramos remains in effect, for those covered by the court injunction but not reapproved under the new redesignation
South Sudan - Nov. 3, 2023
Afghanistan - Nov. 20, 2023
Burma (Myanmar) - Nov. 25, 2022
Nepal - Continued as long as the court injunction in Ramos et al. v. Nielsen et al., No. 18-cv-01554 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 14, 2020) remains in effect
Syria - Sep. 30, 2022
Yemen - Mar. 3, 2023
El Salvador - Continued as long as the court injunction in Ramos et al. v. Nielsen et al., No. 18-cv-01554 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 14, 2020) remains in effect.
Honduras - Continued as long as the court injunction in Ramos et al. v. Nielsen et al., No. 18-cv-01554 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 14, 2020) remains in effect.
Nicaragua - Continued as long as the court injunction in Ramos et al. v. Nielsen et al., No. 18-cv-01554 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 14, 2020) remains in effect.
Ukraine - Oct. 19, 2023
Feb. 3, 2023, for those with TPS under the new designation announced Aug. 3, 2021
Continued as long as the court injunction in Ramos et al. v. Nielsen et al., No. 18-cv-01554 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 14, 2020) remains in effect for those with 2011 TPS designation.
Venezuela - Mar. 10, 2024, as recently extended by Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas
Countries With Terminated TPS Status
These countries no longer have TPS status. They are listed along with their termination date.
Angola - Mar. 29, 2003
Bosnia and Herzegovina - Feb. 10, 2001
Burundi - May 2, 2009
Guinea - May 21, 2017.
Guinea-Bissau - Sept. 10, 2000
Kuwait - Mar. 27, 1992
Lebanon - Mar. 28, 1993
Liberia - May 21, 2017
Montserrat - Feb 27, 2005
Province of Kosovo - Dec. 8, 2000
Rwanda - Dec. 6, 1997
Sierra Leone - Nov. 21, 2016
What Are the Benefits of TPS?
There are numerous benefits to being a TPS beneficiary. First, you will not face deportation or detention from DHS based on your immigration status.
Additionally, TPS holders can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). This document allows you to have work authorization. Finally, TPS recipients can apply for travel authorization to travel internationally and reenter the country. This authorization is called advance parole.
However, recipients currently cannot apply to become U.S. citizens or green card holders through the program. Previously, the Trump administration tried to end TPS status to make immigration law more restricted. Recently, the Biden administration promised to expand protections. It hopes to create a path for TPS holders to be eligible for lawful permanent resident status and eventually naturalization.
What Are the TPS Eligibility Requirements?
To be eligible for TPS, you must:
Currently be in the United States
Be the national of a TPS-designated country or a person who last habitually lived in a TPS-designated country
File for status during a specific initial registration period or re-registration period. If you file after the designated period, you must meet the additional requirements for late filing during your country’s TPS status extension.
Have been continuously physically present in the United States since the most recent designation date for your country
Have been continuously residing in the United States since the date specified for your country
What Can Disqualify You for TPS Eligibility?
Failing to register
Conviction of a felony or two or more misdemeanors while in the U.S.
Engaging in terrorist activity
Persecuting another individual
You are not eligible for TPS if you:
Do not meet registration date requirements
Do not meet the continuous physical presence or continuous residence requirements
Were convicted for a felony or two or more misdemeanors in the United States
Are inadmissible under the Immigration and Nationality Act, which includes security- and criminal-related reasons
Face mandatory bars to asylum, such as for engaging in terrorist activity or persecuting another individual
TPS Application Process
To apply for TPS, you must file forms with USCIS and present evidence that you are eligible for the status. This process can be complicated. You can consider finding an immigration attorney to help you with your application.
What Forms Are Required for a TPS Application?
There are three primary forms to be aware of: Form I-821, Form I-765, and Form I-601.
First, you must file Form I-821: Application for Temporary Protected Status. This is the main TPS application form. You can file it online. USCIS also lists specific requirements by country on its website.
With this application, you will need to include three types of evidence: identity and nationality, date of entry, and continuous residence.
For identity and nationality evidence, you will need to prove you are a national of a home country with TPS designation. Or you must prove you have no nationality but last lived in the designated country.
There are two different types of evidence — primary and secondary. Primary evidence is the most vital kind. It includes documents such as your passport and birth certificate. If you do not have primary evidence, you can submit secondary evidence such as a naturalization certificate or school records that support your nationality claim.
Second, you can submit Form I-765: Request for Employment Authorization to request work authorization. You can submit this when you file Form I-821 or later on. If you file the forms simultaneously, you may be able to receive your work permit faster. You can also file this form online.
Finally, if you are inadmissible to the United States for any reason, you can file Form I-601: Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility. You do not need to reapply if you already have a waiver from USCIS.
Pay a Fee or Apply for a Fee Waiver
To apply for TPS, you must pay three separate fees:
Form I-821 filing fee
Biometrics service fee
Form I-765 filing fee, if you apply for work authorization
Your total cost depends on two factors. First, if you submit Form I-821 for the first time, you must pay the filing fee. If you are re-registering, you do not need to pay again. Second, the biometrics fee depends on your age. Generally, the cost for a first-time adult filer ranges from $135 to $545.
When Can You File a TPS Application?
The U.S. government publishes TPS notices in the Federal Register and on the USCIS site. Foreign nationals can select their country on the site for specific information about their case. This information includes how long your home country’s TPS approval will last and when you can register or re-register. It will also tell you how long your employment authorization will automatically last.
It is essential to file your TPS application or re-registration on time. Otherwise, you could face deportation or removal for losing immigration status. For example, if you entered without inspection and let your TPS status expire without re-registering, you would become undocumented again.
How Do You File a TPS Application?
Filing a TPS application is a country-specific process. You can find more information about how to submit your paperwork on the USCIS site by clicking on your home country's name.
Many applicants can file their applications online. Otherwise, you can mail your application to USCIS through a postal service, such as USPS, FedEx, or UPS. In this case, be sure to ship your paperwork to the correct location.
How Long Does the TPS Application Process Take?
Usually, it takes six months to process a Form I-821 TPS application. You can check on your specific application through USCIS’s online tool by entering your 13-character receipt number found on the notice USCIS sent to you onto the site. This notice confirms that USCIS received your application.
Alternatives to TPS
There are alternatives to TPS if you seek legal status in the United States and your home country does not qualify or its TPS status is set to expire. Or, you might be interested in more permanent immigration status. These alternatives include asylum and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).
While TPS applies to all nationals from designated countries, asylum is an individual designation. You will need to prove that you face or fear persecution in your home country for one of these reasons: your race, nationality, religion, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Because you need to prove your specific case, the application is more extensive and rigorous.
Like with TPS, you can receive a work permit if you receive asylum status. But unlike TPS, asylum is a permanent immigration status. You will be able to remain in the United States without a deadline. You can also apply to become a permanent resident after one year of receiving asylum status.
TPS and asylum are not mutually exclusive. In other words, you can apply for both statuses at the same time.
Deferred Enforced Departure (DED)
Another option is DED. This program prevents migrants from countries or regions with conflict from being removed from the United States. DED differs from TPS because the president decides which countries are part of the program through an executive order.
This status, like TPS, is a temporary one. It expires by a certain date in the executive order. Because it is temporary, it does not provide a path to citizenship.
Currently, DED covers nationals from Liberia, Venezuela, and certain residents of Hong Kong.
Similar to TPS beneficiaries, people with DED status can receive a work permit. DED protects them from removal based on their immigration status. DED recipients can also apply for permission to travel abroad.