About 300,000 people living in the U.S. under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program will no longer be forced to leave in the months ahead, though their relief may not last long.
In response to multiple lawsuits, the Trump administration in November extended benefits for TPS holders from six countries: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan. Rather than expiring by spring 2020, their TPS stay will remain valid until Jan. 4, 2021. While this extension is good news for many, it isn’t the end of uncertainty.
The basics of Temporary Protected Status
TPS allows individuals from designated countries to live and work in the United States legally. In order for a country to be given a TPS designation, there must be a reason people from that nation temporarily cannot return. That could be because of:
- An armed conflict
- An environmental disaster
- Other “extraordinary and temporary” events
There are currently 10 countries designated for TPS. The six mentioned above, as well as Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and Syria. In total, an estimated 317,000 people from these nations have protected status.
While being in the U.S. under TPS does not lead to lawful permanent residence, it does prevent you from being removed. And you can still apply for nonimmigration status or file for an adjustment of status as you normally might be able to.
How the program might change
In 2019, the Trump administration announced it was ending TPS benefits for nearly everyone that held them. The reason, they said, was because the program is supposed to provide temporary help, not be a long-term solution. This decision was quickly met with lawsuits, which are not resolved as we begin 2020.
A federal judge in one case temporarily blocked the administration from eliminating TPS benefits as planned, until he makes a ruling on the merits of the case. That is expected to come this year, and the decision could have wide-ranging impacts.
For now, there are about 300,000 individuals that can breathe easy. How long will this relief last? Only time will tell.