Immigration has been a hot topic in the United States, including here in Kentucky, for some time now. Refugees from certain war-torn or otherwise unsafe countries may find it difficult to enter the country at present. Those who are already here, however, may reach a point where their time in the country is ending.
Returning to your country of origin may put your life in danger, and you need to know if there may be a way to stay in the United States, at least temporarily. If your country of origin is recognized by the Department of Homeland Security as one in which the unrest practically guarantees harm to you based on your return, you might qualify for temporary protected status.
What is temporary protected status?
Temporary protected status allows citizens of certain countries, or those who last lived in one of these countries, to remain in the United States temporarily due to one of the following temporary conditions in their country of origin:
- An epidemic or natural disaster occurred.
- The country is engaged in armed conflict such as a civil war.
- Another temporary and extraordinary condition must have occurred.
In order to remain in the United States under TPS status, you must meet the minimum qualifications:
- You must be from or have recently resided in a designated country.
- You must have filed for TPS during the initial or subsequent registration period for your country or allowed to file late.
- You must have continuously been residing in and physically here in the United States since your country’s addition to the list.
The law provides an exception to the continuous residency and physical presence in the country if you left for innocent, brief or casual reasons. However, you must inform U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of any departures. USCIS makes the final determination regarding whether your absence from the United States falls within the legal exception.
How do I apply for TPS?
Before applying for TPS, you should also know that certain conditions and activities could bar you from receiving this protection. An immigration attorney can inform you of those particulars and advise you regarding whether you are eligible for this status. If you believe that you fall into a category that disqualifies you from TPS, you may file an Application for Waiver of Grounds of Admissibility.
To begin the process, you must file both an Application for Temporary Protected Status and an Application for Employment Authorization, even if you do not intend to work. In addition to any country-specific documentation, you must submit the following documentation with your applications:
- You must provide proof of your identity, that you are a citizen of a country eligible for TPS, or that your last country of residence was a designated country.
- You must provide proof of the date that you entered the United States.
- You must provide proof that you have resided in the United States since the Department of Homeland Security added your country to the list of designated countries.
Numerous types of documentation can provide the proof you need. Knowing which one will work best could prove challenging. You and your attorney can determine what documentation provides the best evidence in your case. Filing your application is only the beginning of the process. You will go through several more steps before USCIS makes a final decision regarding giving you TPS status.
Do I need legal help to get TPS?
The application process can cause confusion and frustration. Even if you file your application alone, you could encounter issues as you work your way through the process. An immigration attorney understands this process and the problems you could encounter based on your individual circumstances. Taking the appropriate steps to minimize or eliminate the chance of these issues arising could require the knowledge a legal advocate possesses. Since your very life may be on the line, it may be wise not to take any chances regarding TPS denial.