This week the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would be terminating the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Nicaragua. Nicaraguans who are currently present in the U.S. in TPS have until January 5, 2019 to either depart or to find another way to remain here lawfully under our immigration laws.
Due to recent rhetoric from the Trump administration, many believe this signals the beginning of a dismantling of the entire TPS program. The program allows immigrants from countries that have been designated as temporarily unsafe, due to ongoing armed conflict, natural disaster, or some other extraordinary and temporary condition, to live and work in the U.S. for a specific time period. Since the program’s inception in 1990, the U.S. has granted TPS to immigrants from ten countries, in many instances repeatedly renewing the designation over a period of a decade or more.
The current TPS designations for Haiti and El Salvador are set to expire in January and March 2018, respectively. Both are under review, and it is possible that DHS will soon announce the termination of TPS for immigrants from these countries. If termination occurs, it is unclear whether recipients will be given extra time in TPS beyond the current expiration date.
For someone from one of these countries who has been residing in the U.S. in TPS for years, this may be a terrifying prospect. The good news is that other legal immigration avenues may be available for a person in this situation. For example, if an individual is married to a U.S. citizen, one option may be an application for permanent residency (a “green card”) with the spouse serving as the sponsor. If the individual has been a victim of crime while in the U.S., they may be eligible for a U visa, which is a path to a green card.
It is important to meet with an immigration attorney as soon as possible to learn about the viability and risks and benefits of other immigration paths. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-496-9040 to schedule an initial legal evaluation.