Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a temporary immigration status granted to people in the U.S. who come from certain countries they can’t return to. If you have TPS or have applied for TPS and you want to travel outside of the United States, you need to apply for travel authorization. Getting travel authorization allows you to return to the U.S. after leaving without having your immigration status revoked. Applying for travel authorization can take up to five months, so it’s important to plan ahead.
Written by ImmigrationHelp Team.
Updated August 15, 2022
What Is TPS?
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a temporary immigration designation. It allows individuals to work and live in the United States regardless of their immigration status. But this special status only applies when it would be unsafe for them to return to their home country. With TPS, a person doesn’t have to worry about getting detained or deported even if they overstay an immigrant visa or are an undocumented immigrant.
Only those who have come from countries that qualify for TPS are eligible to receive it. There are currently 15 designated countries that have Temporary Protected Status, including:
This list of Temporary Protected Status countries is subject to change. To confirm the current countries on the list, visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) Temporary Protected Status website.
How Does a Country Receive Protected Status?
The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can designate a country for TPS if certain temporary conditions make it difficult and/or dangerous for individuals from that country to return. These conditions include:
An ongoing armed conflict, like civil war;
A natural disaster, such as a disease outbreak or earthquake; or
Another type of temporary and extraordinary condition that makes it dangerous for someone to return home.
In addition to staying in the United States without risk of removal, beneficiaries of TPS are also eligible to apply for work authorization, like receiving a work permit or Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
As beneficial as TPS is, it has a few limitations. Unlike those who receive asylum status, TPS recipients don’t have a pathway to lawful permanent residency with an adjustment of status.
Also, if you have TPS, you can’t automatically return to the United States if you leave. You can travel to and from the United States, but you first need to apply for travel authorization. This is called Advance Parole.
What Is Advance Parole?
Despite its name, Advance Parole has nothing to do with the criminal justice system. Rather, it’s a type of travel authorization that allows certain immigrants to return to the United States after traveling abroad. Without Advance Parole, immigrants who leave the United States while their immigration application or status is still pending may:
Have their immigration status revoked
Have any pending applications denied
Be barred from re-entry to the United States
Generally speaking, if someone is eligible for TPS, they’re also eligible for Advance Parole or a TPS travel authorization document. This means if you apply for TPS, you can apply for Advance Parole at the same time. In other words, you don’t have to wait until your TPS application is approved before applying for Advance Parole.
How Can Someone With TPS Apply for Travel Authorization?
You can get permission to travel through either Advance Parole or TPS travel authorization. Either method requires you to complete Form I-131. It costs $575 to file this form, and the USCIS normally takes about three months to process it.
Applicants most often submit Form I-131 to the USCIS by mail. The address you mail your completed form to depends on who you are and what other immigration relief or benefits you’re requesting.
For example, if you’re filing Form I-131 along with Form I-821 (the form you use to apply for TPS), you’ll send your Form I-131 to the address assigned to your country. If your Form I-821 has already been approved or you’re requesting Advance Parole with Form I-821 that’s pending approval, then you’ll send your Form I-131 to one of two addresses. If using the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), you’ll send it to:
Attn: I-131 TPS
P.O. Box 660167
Dallas, TX 75266-0867
If you want to send Form I-131 via UPS, DHL, or FedEx, then you’ll use this address instead:
Attn: I-131 TPS
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
Lewisville, TX 75067
When completing Form I-131, you don’t need to give a reason for your request if you’re already on TPS and applying for Advance Parole. However, you do need to give a reason if you have a different immigration status, such as DACA or a green card.
How To Get Updates on the Status of Your Travel Authorization Request
If you want to receive progress updates via email or text notifications, you can submit Form G-1145 along with your I-131 application. The USCIS will send you an e-Notification within one day of accepting your application. This e-Notification also has a receipt number that you can use to get further application status updates as it’s processed.
Tips for Filling Out Form 1-131
To ensure the proper and efficient processing of your Form I-131 application, there are several tips to keep in mind. One of the biggest is to make sure you sign all the necessary places.
Another important tip is to complete the form on a computer, if at all possible. This ensures you’re using the correct version of the form and allows you to easily correct any mistakes before printing out your completed form and mailing it off.
If you make a mistake on a paper form, you’ll have to start all over. This is because USCIS’s electronic scanners can’t process forms containing portions covered up with correction tape or fluid. The USCIS has a form filing tips page with more advice on completing its forms.
What Limitations Are There for Someone With TPS Traveling on Advance Parole?
If you have TPS or are applying for TPS, you shouldn’t travel outside the United States unless you first receive travel authorization. If you don’t have travel authorization, you may be unable to reenter the U.S.
In certain situations, it could take more than a year to approve your travel authorization. So the moment you know you’ll need to go overseas or think there’s a chance you may have to, it’s best to begin the travel authorization application process. If you want to have a rough idea of how long the USCIS might take to process your Form I-131, you can use the USCIS’s processing times online tool.
Another limitation is the length of time you can be outside the United States. The exact length of time can vary, but in most cases, the maximum amount of time you can expect to stay out of the United States and still return is one year. You may be able to extend this time by applying for a second Advance Parole while traveling with an approved Advance Parole that’s still valid. Just make sure you return to the United States before your designated period of Advance Parole expires.
Finally, if your TPS application is pending and you leave the country, you may miss important notifications about your application. It might also be difficult to schedule appointments like a biometrics appointment.