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The benefits and limits of temporary protected status

Like many in Georgia and across the country, you may be hearing news reports about changes in the temporary protected status of foreign nationals in the United States. If you have TPS status, you may be especially concerned and wonder what the changes means for you and your loved ones.

Because immigration law is complex and stringently enforced, you would do well to seek the guidance of a legal professional who has experience in this area of practice. This will ensure you are getting the most appropriate advice based on the current adaptations of immigration laws. However, having a general understanding of TPS may help you decide the best course of action to take if your country's designation is due to expire.

How does a country gain TPS status?

If you are in the U.S. as a TPS beneficiary, it is because some difficulty in your country made it dangerous or difficult for you to return. You may have been in the U.S. unlawfully, or your visa was ready to expire when the situation in your homeland made it impossible for you to go back, for example:

  • A natural disaster, such as a flood, earthquake or epidemic
  • A continuing armed conflict
  • Political volatility
  • Economic crisis
  • Some other temporary situation

The U.S. government grants protected status for as long as 18 months, but the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security may extend that time indefinitely if the situation in your homeland does not immediately improve. Currently, the TPS designations of all 10 countries on the list are due to expire at various times between now and the end of 2019.

The benefits of TPS

If the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security designated your country for TPS, you likely applied for such status through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Your status protects you from detention or deportation just because of your immigration status. You also have the right to obtain employment authorization and permission to travel outside the country without fear of inadmissibility upon reentry.

However, as the name of the benefit states, the status is temporary. TPS is not a step toward any other lawful residency or visa program. However, this does not mean you may not apply for lawful permanent residency or any of the immigration protections for which your circumstances qualify you. In fact, taking these steps before your TPS status expires is recommended. An immigration attorney can evaluate your situation and help you determine which if any of the immigration benefits might fit.

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