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Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson today extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eligible nationals of Honduras and Nicaragua for an additional 18 months. The TPS designation, originally granted to Honduras in 1999 and to Nicaragua in 2001, gives work permits and legal documents to illegally-present foreign nationals from designated countries.

The Secretary of Homeland Security is authorized to designate a country for TPS due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country's nationals from returning safely. These include:

  • Ongoing armed conflict (e.g., civil war);
  • An environmental disaster (e.g., earthquake or hurricane) or an epidemic; and
  • Other extraordinary and temporary conditions.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may grant TPS to eligible nationals of certain countries who are already in the United States, irrespective of immigration status. Eligible individuals without nationality who last resided in the designated country may also be granted TPS.

During the designated period TPS beneficiaries, and those who are found to be preliminarily eligible, are not removable from the United States and can obtain an employment authorization document. They also cannot be detained by DHS due to their unlawful immigration status.

TPS is meant to be a temporary benefit that does not automatically lead to lawful permanent resident status. However, beneficiaries can still apply for nonimmigrant status or for an adjustment of status. Other countries currently under the TPS designation include El Salvador, Haiti, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Syria.

USCIS also gave notice today that it will begin implementation of a program in early 2015 to “expedite family reunification for certain eligible Haitian family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents of the U.S. and to promote safe, legal and orderly migration from Haiti to the United States.”

Under the Haitian Family Reunification Parole program USCIS will offer certain eligible Haitian beneficiaries of already approved family-based immigrant visa petitions, who are currently in Haiti, an opportunity to come to the United States up to approximately two years before their immigrant visa priority dates become current. Authorized Haitians will be allowed to enter the United States and apply for work permits but will not receive permanent resident status any earlier.

USCIS cites as the legal authority for this program language under the Immigration and Nationality Act which authorizes DHS to parole into the United States certain individuals, on a case-by-case basis, for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.

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Updated: Fri, Oct 31st 2014 @ 4:45pm EDT