The Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program offers a way for desperate people to live and work in the United States temporarily because of dangerous conditions in their home countries.
The relief is only available to people from countries that have been designated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Once a country has been designated, federal immigration authorities may grant TPS status to people for up to 18 months, initially. They can then extend TPS eligibility if the dangerous conditions persist.
Since President Biden took office, the DHS has added two countries to the program: Myanmar (Burma) and Venezuela. DHS has also extended benefits into 2022 for nationals of nine other countries (El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.) And, it has expanded eligibility for people from Haiti due to the recent earthquake and political unrest.
To qualify for TPS status, people must meet filing deadlines, pay a fee and show they have not been convicted of a felony or two or more misdemeanors. Additionally, they must show they have not been engaged in persecution or terrorism. They must also meet the program guidelines for their country.
According to the Pew Research Center, approximately 700,000 people are either eligible for or are already receiving TPS status. The status allows them to legally live and work in the U.S. on a temporary basis without fear of deportation. Immigrants with TPS status live in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, although most live in California, Texas, Florida and New York.
Why were Myanmar and Venezuela added to the TPS countries list?
The DHS added Myanmar to the list of countries eligible for TPS treatment due to the Feb. 1 military coup, which has involved ongoing violence, arbitrary detentions and the use of lethal violence against peaceful protestors, among other issues.
About 1,600 people from Myanmar are estimated to be eligible. In order to qualify, you must have lived in the U.S. since March 11, 2021, or earlier.
As for Venezuela, the Biden administration cites a “severe humanitarian emergency” and also the possibility of fraud in the election of President Nicolás Maduro in 2013. Venezuelans are also eligible for relief from deportation and work authorizations under a separate federal program called “Deferred Enforced Departure.”
What’s next for TPS beneficiaries?
According to Pew, most TPS beneficiaries have been living in the United States for two decades or longer. A proposal for a path to citizenship has been included in recent legislation meant to reform the immigration system.
If you have questions about TPS, contact Yew Immigration Law Group. We have years of experience helping people live and work in the United States.