Immigration FAQ

What is Temporary Protected Status?

Temporary protected status is for those foreign nationals who are already in the US on nonimmigrant visas, but who are unable to return to their home countries for a temporary period of time due to war or other conflict, an environmental disaster or some other extraordinary circumstances that are temporary in nature.

The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security has the authority to create and extend temporary protected status to foreign nationals. Currently, residents of the following countries are eligible to receive temporary protected status:

  • Burundi
  • El Salvador
  • Honduras
  • Liberia
  • Nicaragua
  • Somalia
  • Sudan

Temporary protected status is not automatically awarded to all residents from one of these countries. To be eligible, a foreign national must apply for the status with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which administers the program from the Department of Homeland Security. Certain preconditions exist, including:

  • The foreign national must meet continuous and physical presence requirements in the US
  • The foreign national must pass the criminal and security background checks (foreign nationals who have been convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors in the US are ineligible for status)
  • The foreign national must apply for the status in a timely fashion

Foreign nationals with temporary protected status may work while they are in the US. However, those with temporary protected status are not allowed to use the status as a basis to become legal permanent residents.

In some instances, the Department of Homeland Security will determine that it is necessary to extend temporary protected status to residents from certain countries, given that the reasons for originally granting the status are still present (such as on-going conflict). If temporary protected status is extended, foreign nationals who already have been granted protection are required to reapply for status. If they fail to reapply, they lose the status.

Once temporary protected status has expired, foreign nationals revert back to the immigration status they had prior to receiving the protected status and are required to leave the US by their departure date. As with others residing temporarily in the US on nonimmigrant visas, those who enjoyed temporary protected status can apply for a change in status or extension of their stay with the USCIS.

For more information on temporary protected status or other immigration issues, contact an experienced immigration attorney in your area.

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