In recent months, the Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, has announced the termination of Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, country designations for Sudan, Nicaragua and Haiti. Honduras received a six-month auto-extension because DHS was unable to make a decision to terminate or extend, but its TPS designation will soon be reviewed again. TPS designations for other countries will be under review over the coming months. Each time TPS is terminated or extended for a designated country, TPS holders from that country are required to re-register if they wish to maintain TPS status. Typically, in addition to re-registering, TPS holders will also need to reapply for Employment Authorization Documents, or EADs, in order to continue to legally work in the United States until their TPS expires. This article describes the basic process for re-registering for TPS. Note that country-specific instructions for TPS re-registration are always published in the Federal Register Notice. Notices pertaining to Nicaragua and Honduras were published Dec. 15, 2017 and we are still awaiting a notice for Haiti. Always consult the Federal Register Notice and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website for country-specific details about re-registration.
Who May Re-Register for TPS
Generally, TPS holders must re-register in order to maintain their TPS status. Re-registration applications may be filed during a 60-day re-registration period announced by DHS and published in the Federal Register. The applicant must continue to be eligible for TPS as follows: (1) be a national of the designated country or a person without nationality who last habitually resided in the designated country; (2) file during the open initial registration or re-registration period (or meet the requirements for late initial filing during any extension of the country’s TPS designation); (3) have been continuously physically present in the United States since the effective date of the country’s most recent TPS designation; and (4) have been continuously residing in the United States since the date specified for the TPS country.
In addition, the applicant must be admissible. Certain grounds of inadmissibility do not apply to TPS applicants and most other grounds can be waived for humanitarian purposes, to assure family unity, or in the public interest. A Form I-601 waiver application is only needed for inadmissibility grounds that were not previously waived. Finally, an applicant cannot have a conviction for one felony or two or more misdemeanors.
Eligibility for Late Initial Registration
Some individuals who have not previously filed for TPS status may be eligible for late initial registration. This may be an option if certain conditions prevented the person from seeking TPS during the initial designation period for their country. First-time registration applications may be submitted during an extension of a country’s TPS designation period. In addition to meeting all other TPS eligibility requirements, the applicant must satisfy at least one of the following late initial filing conditions and must register while one of these conditions still exists or within 60 days of the condition’s expiration or termination: (1) the applicant was a nonimmigrant or was granted voluntary departure status or any relief from removal during the initial registration period (or during a subsequent initial registration period if the country was re-designated); (2) the person had an application for change of status, adjustment of status, asylum, voluntary departure, or any relief from removal that was pending or subject to further review or appeal during the registration period; (3) the individual was a parolee or had a pending request for re-parole during that timeframe; or (4) the applicant is the spouse of an individual currently eligible for TPS.
Also, someone who, during the initial registration period or a subsequent registration period, was the child of an individual currently eligible for TPS may still be eligible for late initial registration and there is no time limitation on filing. In other words, someone who was a child may still be eligible even if he or she is now over 21 years old or married. Note that there is no derivative status for TPS beneficiaries. Spouses and children must independently meet the TPS eligibility requirements.
When to File for TPS Re-Registration
TPS holders may file for re-registration during the 60-day period announced in the Federal Register Notice, or FRN. Each FRN contains country-specific instructions regarding re-registration and work authorization. We do not recommend filing new applications until a re-registration period is formally announced because applications submitted early will likely be rejected. However, this time may be used to prepare applications and confirm continued eligibility for TPS.
The re-registration period for Sudan (October 11, 2017 through December 11, 2017) has already closed. The 60-day re-registration period for Nicaragua and Honduras runs from December 15, 2017 through February 13, 2018. Nicaraguan TPS holders who apply to re-register in a timely fashion will remain in valid TPS status until January 5, 2019. Hondurans with TPS who timely re-register may maintain TPS until July 5, 2018. We will not know what the 60-day re-registration period is for Haiti until publication of a FRN.
Prior to filing for re-registration, applicants should be screened to ensure continued eligibility for TPS, including continued physical presence and residence, new criminal issues, and other developments that could trigger inadmissibility and the need for a waiver. Ideally, advocates should review clients’ prior TPS applications before finalizing the re-registration application for filing.
Re-registration applications must be submitted using Form I-821. Check to see that you are using the edition required by USCIS. There is no filing fee for Form I-821, but applicants 14 years old or older must pay the biometrics fee.
How to Maintain Employment Authorization
TPS holders should always consult the FRN and USCIS website for country-specific details about maintaining employment authorization. Sometimes DHS automatically extends the validity of TPS beneficiaries’ EADs, while other times they are required to apply to renew their EADs.
For Honduran TPS holders who re-register, the FRN automatically extends their EADs for 180 days until July 4, 2018. Those who want a new EAD reflecting a July 4, 2018 expiration must file a Form I-765.
For Nicaraguan TPS beneficiaries, the FRN automatically extended their EADs for 60 days through March 6, 2018. Those re-registering who want a new EAD valid until Jan. 5, 2019 must file a Form I-765. Applicants who re-register and apply for an EAD will also receive an automatic 180-day extension.
All TPS applicants applying for an EAD must pay the I-765 filing fee or seek a fee waiver. Check the USCIS website to confirm the current fees. Information about fee waivers is at: www.uscis.gov/i-912.
Late TPS Re-Registration
USCIS may accept a late re-registration application filed after the 60-day re-registration period for a particular country. The TPS applicant must submit a letter explaining a good cause reason for filing late along with his or her re-registration application.
Travel for TPS Beneficiaries
TPS holders who want to travel outside the United States must first apply for advance parole travel authorization using Form I-131. It may be filed together with the I-821 or separately based on a pending or approved I-821. Before deciding to depart the country, TPS recipients should seek legal advice about the risks of traveling with advance parole.