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On November 16, the Biden Administration announced that it would extend Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) for citizens and nationals of six countries whose TPS was set to expire at the end of 2022. The six countries are El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Sudan. 

The federal government confers TPS on certain countries that are unable to temporarily handle the return of their citizens abroad due to dangerous conditions, including armed conflict and natural disasters. Although temporary, TPS can be extended for many years (even decades) if dangerous conditions in the countries persist.

Read on to learn from our team of New Orleans immigration attorneys at Pelton + Balducci about what this status could mean for new immigrants.

What Countries Are Designated for TPS?

The countries currently designated for TPS include:

  • Afghanistan
  • Burma (Myanmar)
  • Cameroon
  • El Salvador
  • Ethiopia
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Nepal
  • Nicaragua
  • Syria
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • South Sudan
  • Ukraine
  • Venezuela
  • Yemen

Generally, TPS may be sought by individuals residing in the U.S. at the time that the government makes the TPS designation. Individuals residing in the U.S. after the designation will be ineligible for TPS. 

With very few exceptions, individuals must register during the initial registration period, otherwise they will be ineligible for TPS, even if they met the residency requirements.

Some countries, including Haiti and Sudan have been designated more than once. In fact, these countries, along with several others, have initial registration periods that are currently open.

What Does This Decision to Extend TPS Mean?

The recent extension of TPS for these six countries reflects the government’s compliance with federal court orders blocking the government’s efforts to terminate TPS for the six countries. 

The new TPS designations for Sudan and Haiti will not be impacted by the government’s efforts to end TPS. In other words, if the government is allowed to terminate TPS for the countries in question, the new designations for Sudan and Haiti will continue, and beneficiaries will not lose their status so long they have properly registered for these new designations and have not done anything to disqualify themselves from TPS.

Although the government continues its litigation to end TPS for El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal, and Nicaragua, the Biden Administration has significantly expanded the use of TPS. 

These lawsuits are holdovers from the Trump Administration’s attempt to end long-standing TPS programs. The Biden Administration, however, has made initial TPS designations for 12 countries, most recently Ethiopia on October 21, 2022. It is unclear whether it will continue to pursue the efforts to end TPS for El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal, and Nicaragua.

TPS and Permanent Residency

On July 1, 2022, the USCIS issued a Policy Memorandum announcing that it would change the mechanism for people with TPS to leave and re-enter the United States and that this mechanism could result in eligibility for permanent residency.

Prior to this announcement, persons who had been granted Temporary Protected Status could leave and re-enter the U.S. with advance parole. This was important because a lawful entry into the United States (including with advance parole) is often a requirement to apply for a green card in the United States. 

The Trump Administration, however, reversed this long-standing position and stated that TPS holders’ entry into the U.S. with advance parole was not a lawful entry that could lead to eligibility for permanent residency. 

Under the Biden Administration, USCIS has returned to the traditional position that a TPS holder’s entry with advance parole may satisfy the requirement for lawful admission in order to apply for permanent residency.

The July 1 memo, written with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of General Counsel (OGC), makes some changes in an attempt to bring together and manage decades of TPS protocols that have been at times unavailable or difficult for those holding TPS, as well as their dependents and other family members. The memo announced the creation of a new travel document for TPS holders called an I-512T. The aim is to have a document that unambiguously allows for a lawful entry that satisfies the requirement to apply for permanent residence.

We remind TPS holders, however, that international travel always carries risks, and reentry is not guaranteed with either advance parole or the I-512T. Even if they obtain travel authorization, TPS holders should be clear on the implications of their prior immigration and criminal history before traveling abroad.

This can be a complicated analysis, but with the right information and help, it is possible to make an informed decision about travel – and perhaps establish eligibility to adjust your status to lawful permanent resident. At Pelton + Balducci, we have a team of experienced Louisiana immigration attorneys who can advise you on TPS, the risks of travel, and whether you may be eligible for permanent residency.

Contact Pelton + Balducci Today - Helping You Make America Home

Navigating the immigration process is never easy, but it’s especially difficult when new laws and regulations are constantly being put into place. At Pelton + Balducci, we understand how confusing and frustrating it can be to deal with these changes, which is why our team of experienced immigration lawyers in Louisiana is here to help. We have a deep understanding of immigration law and will work tirelessly to ensure that your rights are protected every step of the way.

If you’re in the Louisiana area, don’t try to deal with this alone. Contact Pelton + Balducci today to schedule a consultation.

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