This summer and fall, news from the immigration field included announcements about Temporary Protected Status, commonly referred to as TPS. The public is familiar with immigration terms such as green cards, naturalization, deportation, and visas, but perhaps less familiar with TPS. This is an important type of relief for immigrants seeking permission to live in the United States legally, although it is temporary and does not provide a direct path to a green card or to citizenship.
TPS was created by Congress in 1990 to offer immigrants whose home countries are considered unsafe (due to natural disasters or violence) permission to live, work, and drive in the country for 18 months (about 1 and a half years). This period can be extended, and some people have lived in the U.S. with TPS for many years. TPS holders are protected from deportation and can apply for green cards or citizenship, but TPS itself does not lead to permanent residency.
Although the program historically has enjoyed bipartisan support, presidents can propose reductions and expansions. President Biden has both renewed TPS for existing countries and expanded the program to new countries. (Source: Council on Foreign Relations, Sept. 21, 2023)
Countries with TPS designations:
At ILJ-MI, all potential clients are screened for Temporary Protected Status eligibility. Currently, we are serving 19 clients with TPS. The majority are from the Ukraine, but we also represent clients from Haiti, Venezuela, and Yemen. One of our former TPS clients was in the United States as a high school exchange student when the war in Ukraine began, and TPS has allowed them to remain here safely while that conflict rages on.
The short-term nature of TPS can lead recipients to stress and worry over what will happen if their country loses its designation. Nevertheless, for immigrants who cannot return to their home countries due to violence, natural disasters, or other unsafe conditions, TPS provides the relief they need to live safely and to work to support their livelihoods and for their families until the situation at home improves.