Stay Safe in the US Through Form I-821, Temporary Protected Status
These are considerable advantages if you are present in the US and would encounter significant risk of harm by returning home. As such, USCIS has implemented very strict eligibility rules, and only those from designated nations will qualify. Plus, there are windows of time to consider, and you must re-register according to the deadlines to maintain this temporary status.
Because the process for seeking and keeping TPS is challenging, you need an experienced legal advocate on your side. Form I-821 requires an extensive amount of documentation, and the timing is crucial. An Arizona temporary protected status lawyer will guide you with application materials, but some background information should help you understand the basics.
Objectives of the TPS Application
USCIS Form I-821 – Application for Temporary Protected Status aims to address the scenario when a foreign national is present in the US and cannot return because of the dangers at home. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) places countries on a list when hazardous conditions pose a threat, such as because of war, environmental or weather disaster, or other extraordinary situations.
If you are a citizen of a designated nation or are a person without nationality that last resided there, it is understandable that you have reservations about returning. You can submit Form I-821 to request permission to stay temporarily without fear that immigration officials could remove you. Though approval of a TPS application does not confer any status or get you a green card, there are important benefits:
- You are not subject to deportation.
- You cannot be detained by DHS on the basis of your immigrant status.
- By completing additional paperwork, you can obtain authorization to work in the US during your temporary stay.
- You may be allowed to travel outside the US and return with proper documentation.
Individuals Eligible to File Form I-821
The two primary criteria are being present in the US and being a national of a country that DHS has designated for TPS. In addition, you must file your application during the initial open registration or a re-registration period. Open registration refers to the situation when DHS has recently placed the country on the list, giving qualifying applicants a period to submit Form I-821. Re-registration is a time window in which you are allowed to file your application because DHS extended the TPS designation for that country.
You must have been continuously present in the US since the effective date of your country’s designation, according to the most recent DHS determinations for that nation. It is also necessary to show that you have been living in the US since the date specified for that country. A Phoenix TPS applications attorney can describe the requirements for continuous physical presence and continuous residence, which are separate concepts.
Still, you may not qualify for TPS if you were convicted of a felony or two or more misdemeanors while in the US. Individuals are also disqualified on the basis of certain grounds of inadmissibility, including those for criminal activity and national security.
How Nations are Classified for TPS
The Secretary of Homeland Security has the power to designate countries for TPS, based upon three factors:
- There is an armed, ongoing conflict in the nation, such as civil war, mass protests, or attempt to overthrow the government.
- An environmental disaster or related event occurred, such as earthquake, flood, fires, or hurricane. An epidemic in the country falls in this category.
- Other extraordinary conditions are forecast to continue long-term in the designated nation, yet they are still only expected to be temporary.
USCIS keeps a list of countries currently designated for TPS, so you can check to see if your home nation appears when you are considering options. There are currently 16 countries designated for purposes of Form I-821, but more are added and some are taken off because conditions have improved. With respect to each of these nations, it is critical to know the open registration and re-registration dates. Your application for re-registration may be allowed if it is late, but you will need to provide good cause for the delay.
Filing Your TPS Application
Every person seeking TPS must complete Form I-821 and submit it to USCIS, along with supporting evidence and the filing fee. There is no derivative status, so you cannot include a spouse, child, or parent in your own application. You will be required to provide such information as:
- The reason for applying, either as a first-time applicant or re-registration;
- Your mailing address and residence in the US;
- Details about your marital status and family;
- Information about your entry into the US;
- Statements about eligibility, including your home country, continuous residence, and continuous physical presence; and,
- Your immigration history, criminal record, and other eligibility standards, for assessing whether you are inadmissible.
Upon receiving your application, USCIS will send a confirmation receipt. Every TPS applicant older than 14 years old must also submit biometrics, so you will get a notice about collecting your fingerprints. When you file Form I-821, it may also be wise to submit Form I-765 – Application for Employment Authorization. A TPS beneficiary is allowed to work in the US, but you must first apply for and obtain the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to present to your employer. These forms can be sent together to streamline processing.
Supporting Documents for Form I-821
USCIS will require evidentiary proof to confirm the information you supply with your application for TPS. Your Arizona immigration lawyer will advise you and help organize the following:
- Personal Identification and Nationality Evidence: These documents are necessary to show that you are from a designated country for TPS or that you have no citizenship and last lived in a TPS nation.
- Information on Entry to the US: USCIS uses this information to compare your date of arrival to open and re-registration periods for your home country.
- Proof of Continuous Residence: You must have evidence showing that you lived in and were present in the US since the date specified for your TPS designated nation.
In most cases, primary evidence is required by USCIS, such as a copy of your passport, birth certificate, photo ID, or naturalization certificate. If it is not possible to obtain these documents, there are options for supplying secondary evidence. Examples include baptism records, other immigration papers, and affidavits of individuals who have close personal knowledge of your nationality. To establish continuous residence, you may opt to submit employment records, rent receipts, utility bills, medical records, and other documents acceptable to USCIS.
Immigration Benefits of TPS
Once your application is approved by USCIS, you will be able to stay in the US during the period that your home nation is designated as a TPS country. DHS determines the length of time, but the initial period is at least 6 months and potentially up to 18 months. This window is extended if the conditions in your nation do not improve, so many individuals who are TPS beneficiaries may be allowed to remain for years.
If you apply for and receive a work permit along with Form I-821, you will also be able to work in the US under your EAD. It will be necessary to follow all rules and requirements to keep your work permit in good standing, though DHS may issue an automatic extension for all EADs linked to TPS applications. Details about any automatic extensions are on the USCIS website under that TPS country’s description.
Living in the US with TPS
The advantages of being a TPS beneficiary are important, so it is critical that you comply with all USCIS rules. Re-registration according to the re-registration period for your home nation is essential. You may not be able to maintain your existing TPS if you fail to submit the documents on time.
You are permitted to travel outside the US if your Form I-821 was approved, but you will need to obtain a special document from USCIS. It is necessary to submit Form I-131 – Application for Travel Document, and you receive Authorization for Travel by a Noncitizen if granted. Your paperwork will include the dates that you can leave the US and return, and it can be used multiple times within the designated time period. However, you cannot remain outside the US for more than 90 days total.
Note that a travel authorization allows you to seek lawful entry back to the US, but it does not guarantee that you will be allowed. Officials from US Customs and Border Protection will still conduct an inspection of your documents, including any potential grounds for inadmissibility.
Consult an Arizona Form I-821 Attorney About TPS Applications
If you believe you qualify for TPS and want to know more about the process, please contact Diamondback Legal. Our team has extensive experience helping clients with a wide array of immigration matters, including Form I-821. We are prepared to advise you with filing and assist with document preparation, so call our firm at (602) 755-3199 or visit our website to learn more. An Arizona immigration lawyer can schedule a consultation at our offices in Phoenix.