Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Definition

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a temporary immigration status granted by the U.S. Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to a foreign country due to conditions which temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely. TPS may also be granted in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals. USCIS may grant TPS to eligible nationals of certain countries (or parts of countries), who are already in the United States. Once an individual is granted TPS, he or she cannot be detained by DHS. TPS is usually granted for 6 to 18 months and may be extended.

TPS may be granted due to the following temporary conditions:

  • Ongoing armed conflict (such as civil war)
  • An environmental disaster (such as earthquake or hurricane), or an epidemic
  • Other extraordinary and temporary conditions

In 1990, as part of the Immigration Act of 1990 ("IMMACT"), Congress established a procedure by which the Attorney General may provide TPS to immigrants in the United States who are temporarily unable to safely return to their home country because of ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.

On March 1, 2003, pursuant to the Homeland Security Act of 2002, authority to designate a country (or part thereof) for TPS, and to extend and terminate TPS designations, was transferred from the Attorney General to the Secretary of Homeland Security. At the same time, responsibility for administering the TPS program was transferred from the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

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