What is Temporary Protected Status?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 22 October 2018
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Temporary protected status (TPS) is an immigration status that allows foreign nationals to remain in the United States temporarily when their home nations are unsafe and returning home is not logistically possible. The decision to grant temporary protected status is made by the head of the Department of Homeland Security on the basis of situations like environmental disasters, wars, and other extraordinary situations. Being given temporary protected status does not lead to citizenship.

The Immigration Act of 1990 created the mechanism for temporary protected status, initially vesting the attorney general of the United States with this power. In 2003, handling of temporary protected status was shifted to the Department of Homeland Security. Under the law, if the United States government determines that a situation in a foreign country is unsafe, it can decide to extend temporary protected status to all citizens of that country currently in the United States.

In order to receive temporary protected status, people must register with the Department of Homeland Security. They can also apply for a temporary work permit, which is granted to people with TPS so that they can support themselves while they are waiting for the condition at home to resolve. The status may be granted for between six and 18 months and if it is extended, the person must re-register.


While under TPS, people residing in the United States must apply for advanced parole to travel. This suspends their immigration status and allows them to travel and return. If people travel without advanced parole, they may be refused entry to the United States. Once the TPS expires, people revert to their former immigration status unless they have taken steps to apply for a chance of status.

While under TPS, people cannot be detained by the Department of Homeland Security and they also cannot be deported to their nations of origin. TPS is not granted automatically and there are situations in which officials with the United States Citizenship and Immigration services (USCIS) may deny an application. In the event that an application is rejected, it is possible to appeal on the grounds that the decision was unfounded.

This immigration status is granted as a courtesy in extraordinary situations. People who are not from nations which are currently under temporary protected status who believe that returning home would be dangerous can apply for asylum. Asylum applications are granted to people who can demonstrate that conditions in their home nations pose a personal threat to safety, as for example if a journalist has been threatened by militias and cannot safely return home.



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