Understanding Temporary Protected Status
Temporary protected status or TPS is a form of deferred action, a permission by a US government to stay in the US whose countries’ conditions are such that do not permit safe return of its nationals. To be able to apply for TPS, a person has to be a national of the country which was designated by the U.S. government as TPS eligible. The most recent such designation was afforded to Yemen. The complete list of the designated countries can be found at www.uscis.gov.
A holder of the TPS status may apply for work authorization and travel permit. A person can qualify for TPS even if he/she entered the US illegally. It is the timing of designation of the country for the TPS that matters. Usually, a person can apply for TPS if he/she is in the U.S. physically at the time of the TPS designation and a person submits his/her application within the specified time period.
A person does not need to be in the U.S. illegally to apply for TPS. It means that if one is in the U.S. on a B, F, H, E visa, or if one has a pending asylum claim or even in removal proceedings, he/she can apply for TPS. The grant of TPS does not change the other status the person held.
TPS however does not allow its beneficiaries to apply for social security or Medicaid benefits.
The courts and USCIS in the U.S. are divided as to if a TPS beneficiary may adjust his/her status, if he/she is an immediate relative of a US citizen. While the USCIS says “NO”, at least three federal courts said “YES”: See Flores v. USCIS, (June 4, 2013 6th Cir) and Medina v. Beers ( ED Pa 2014), and Ramirez v. Dougherty: United States District Court, Western District of Washington (May 30, 2014).
Another important “feature” of the TPS is that its holder may apply for cancellation of removal once TPS expires, however, the time in TPS does not count towards cancellation of removal without special findings by the Attorney General.
A complete list of eligible countries can be viewed here >>.