Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Extended through January 4, 2021
Much to the relief of thousands of affected immigrants residing in the United States, USCIS announced that DHS, in compliance with preliminary injunctions in ongoing litigation, has extended the validity of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) work cards issued for beneficiaries from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Sudan through January 4, 2021.
The extension comes as a result of pending federal litigation challenging the Trump Administration’s attempt to terminate TPS protections, which currently provide temporary protection and employment authorization to hundreds of thousand qualifying immigrants in the United States. TPS is a temporary immigration status granted to eligible nationals of a country designated for TPS under the Immigration and Nationality Act. DHS may designate a foreign country for TPS due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country's nationals from returning safely or, in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately.
For current TPS holders, the extension means that TPS-related documentation, including work cards (EADs), Notices of Action (Form I-797), and Arrival/Departure Records (Form I-94), are automatically extended through January 4, 2021. While this is not a permanent solution for beneficiaries of TPS, it does provide continued protection. As a result, TPS beneficiaries from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Sudan may now show their automatically-extended EAD to employers to demonstrate they have employment authorization.
Importantly, while TPS is temporary and does not by itself allow a pathway to permanent residency, certain TPS holders can apply for permanent resident status (also known as a green card). For example, TPS holders residing in the jurisdiction of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee) may qualify for permanent residency if they have an U.S. citizen spouse or child over the age of 21. Decisions in the Sixth and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeal have opened the door for many individuals who entered the United States without inspection, but later received TPS to adjust to lawful permanent resident status. In the Sixth Circuit case, Flores v. USCIS, the court ruled that a grant of TPS satisfies the admission-related requirement of Section 245(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). 718 F.3d 548 (6th Cir. 2013).
While the future of TPS is uncertain, TPS beneficiaries should consult with a licensed and experienced immigration attorney to determine whether they might be eligible to adjust status to lawful permanent resident and file the correct petitions with immigration as soon as possible. Ultimately, TPS is a humanitarian benefit that serves as a manner of protection of vulnerable individuals while allowing them to contribute to the United States by receiving employment authorization and permission to temporarily remain in the country so long as they continue to qualify and do not commit any disqualifying criminal offenses. Thanks to TPS, countless beneficiaries have contributed to their local communities, established families and businesses, and formed lasting ties to the United States
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