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How To Apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

From Jennifer Leavitt-Wipf,
Your Guide to Immigration Issues.
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Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a temporary immigration status granted to eligible nationals of designated countries. If aliens are temporarily unable to safely return to their home country because of ongoing armed conflict, the temporary effects of an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions, they can apply for TPS. The Secretary of Homeland Security designates which countries fall under TPS program. TPS applicants can also apply for a temporary work permit.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: 4 - 6 weeks

Here's How:

  1. Check if your country is designated under the TPS program at the USCIS Web site.
  2. Fill out USCIS Form I-821 (Application for Temporary Protected Status) and prepare a filing fee, supporting evidence of identity and nationality, proof of residence, two identical color photos, and, if you are age 14 or older, a fee for biometric services.
  3. If you are between the ages of 14 and 65 and want employment authorization, complete USCIS Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) with the appropriate fee. Applicants who already have or do not wish to receive employment authorization still must submit a completed USCIS Form I-765 with their Form I-821, but without the fee.
  4. Now that all the required documents are prepared, send your application package to the local USCIS district office that serves the area where you live. If you are from El Salvador, send your application to the USCIS Service Center that serves that area where you live. To find out where your local district offices and Service Centers are, read the list of USCIS field offices.
  5. If you are from Honduras or Nicaragua, send your application to the USCIS Lockbox in Chicago, Illinois at:

    USCIS Citizenship and Immigration Services
    P.O. Box 87583
    Chicago, Illinois 60680-0583

    Or for non-U.S. Postal Service deliveries:

    USCIS Citizenship and Immigration Services
    427 S. LaSalle Street, 3rd Floor
    Chicago, Illinois 60680

  6. If you are over the age of 14, you will be called by the USCIS for fingerprinting after you send in your application.
  7. The TPS designation lasts from 6 months to a maximum of 18 months. After that period, the Secretary of Homeland Security will review a country's situation and extend the designation by another 6, 12 or 18 months. If you are granted TPS, you must re-register with the USCIS for each period that your TPS status is extended.
  8. To re-register, submit a completed USCIS Form I-821 and USCIS Form I-765 during the period stated in the Federal Register notice of extension of the TPS designation, or as published in USCIS press releases. You do not have to send in another fee for USCIS Form I-821, but you must submit a fee for USCIS Form I-765 if you are between the ages of 14 and 65 and are requesting employment authorization. If you do not re-register each period, your TPS may be withdrawn.
  9. You can get forms by calling 1-800-870-3676, by viewing USCIS' Forms Page, or by submitting a request through the forms by mail system. After receiving your forms, read the instructions carefully and note the documentation that must be submitted. For further information on filing fees, please see USCIS filing fees, fee waiver request procedures, and the USCIS fee waiver policy memo. Please see the fingerprinting Webpage for more information on USCIS biometric services procedures.

What You Need:

  • Get USCIS Form I-821 and fill it out
  • Proof of identity/nationality: Passport, birth certificate with photo
  • Further proof: Other official documents, letters from churches or organizations
  • Get USCIS Form I-765
  • Prove date of entry into the U.S.: Passport, I-94 Arrival Record
  • Money: $295 for 1st time applicants, incl. employment authorization
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