Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, provides protection to certain individuals who are temporarily unable to return to their home country due to an ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary conditions. The Attorney General of the United States designates countries that are afflicted with these widespread crises, and has the power to both extend and terminate the period of protection. Individuals who have obtained TPS may remain in the United States and obtain work authorization for the period of time that their home country is designated for TPS. However, TPS does not create a path to permanent residency in itself, and following the termination of TPS, individuals will return to the immigration status they had previously unless this status has since expired, terminated, or changed through “adjustment of status.”
In the past, TPS has been granted at different periods of time to nationals of the following countries: Angola; Bosnia-Herzegovina; Burundi; El Salvador; Guinea-Bissau; Honduras; Kosovo; Kuwait; Lebanon; Liberia; Montserrat; Nicaragua; Rwanda; Sierra Leone; Somalia; and, Sudan. The most recent grant of TPS was made to nationals of Haiti after the earthquake which occurred on January 12, 2010. The USCIS website contains the latest information on which countries are designated for TPS and for what time period.
NACARA & HRIFA
Because of certain compelling circumstances, over the years Congress has passed laws to benefit certain nationalities and to provide them with a path towards lawful permanent residency status. Some of these laws have benefited nationals from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti and nationals of certain Eastern Europe countries.
The Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) is a defense to removal (deportation) proceedings and provides what is known as “special rule cancellation of removal” to eligible nationals of El Salvador, Nicaragua, and designated Eastern Europe countries. If this relief is granted, the individual receives a green card and can eventually be eligible for U.S. citizenship. Special rule cancellation of removal has different requirements depending on the individual’s country (or region) of origin. Generally, individuals who apply under NACARA must have entered the United States by a specific date in 1990.
The Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 1998 allowed certain Haitians to become permanent residents if they applied by March of 2000. However, HRIFA relief is still available to spouses and children who were abused by a spouse or parent who was eligible for HRIFA or who became a permanent resident through HRIFA. If HRIFA relief is granted, the individual receives a green card and could eventually be eligible for U.S. citizenship.