TPS Questions and Answers

Created May 2010

What is Temporary Protected Status?

TPS is a temporary immigration status granted to eligible nationals of a country (or to persons without nationality who last habitually resided in the designated country) that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated for TPS because the country is experiencing an ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, or extraordinary and temporary conditions. During the period for which the Secretary has designated a country for TPS, TPS beneficiaries are eligible to remain in the United States and may obtain work authorization, so long as they continue to meet the terms and conditions of their TPS status. The granting of TPS is available only to persons who were continuously physically present in the U.S. as of the effective date of that designation and does not lead to permanent resident status. When the Secretary terminates a country's TPS designation, beneficiaries return to the same immigration status they maintained before TPS (unless that status has since expired or terminated) or to any other status they may have obtained while registered for TPS.

TPS is only available to Haitians, who:

  1. are a Haitian national or a person who last habitually resided in Haiti;
  2. continuously resided in the U.S. on or before January 12, 2011;
  3. have remained continuously physically present in the U.S. since July 23, 2011;
  4. meet other immigration admissibility requirements; and
  5. fully complete the TPS application process.

TPS was initially available for Haitians from January 21, 2010 until July 22, 2011. However, DHS extended TPS for Haitians until January 22, 2016. You must register for TPS by January 18, 2011, to be eligible for TPS now and for any extensions. To register for TPS, you must complete an Application for Temporary Protected Status (Form I-821) including an application an Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765), have your fingerprints taken, and pay the filing fees or request a waiver of the fees.

You may be eligible to file a late initial application for TPS if you have never been granted TPS. See USCIS' page on TPS and ”Filing Late” for more information.

Do I have to pay for the TPS forms?

No, the forms to apply for TPS are free. Never pay for blank immigration forms. You can get forms by:

  • Going to the local USCIS office in the JFK Federal Building, 15 Sudbury Street, Boston. You can find the forms you need on a table in the lobby and at the information counter in Room E-160;
  • Calling USCIS toll free customer service number at 800-375-5283; or
  • Downloading the forms (I-821, I-765) from the USCIS website

Many legal service agencies help people apply for TPS for free. To find a legal service agency in your area, call 617-367-8544 or click here . You can also check our calendar of TPS clinics throughout the state.

Source: USCIS

Does it cost money to apply for TPS?

Yes. For those under the age of 14, it costs $50. For those ages 14-65, it costs $470 with work authorization; $130 without work authorization, but you still have to complete the employment authorization form (I-765). For those over the age of 65, it costs $130.

Source: USCIS

What can I do if I cannot afford to pay the fees?

You can ask USCIS to “waive” the fees. If USCIS decides to waive the fees, you will not have to pay them anything. To ask USCIS to “waive” the fees, you must submit a statement with your TPS application that specifically asks USCIS to waive the fees and explains your income and expenses. You must also include documents that show you cannot afford the fees like your pay stubs or evidence that you receive some type of public assistance. Fees that can be waived are the Application for Temporary Protected Status (Form I-821), the Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765), the Application for Waiver of Ground of Inadmissibility (Form I-601), and the biometrics fees. The Application for Travel Document (Form I-131) cannot be waived. Speak with a legal services attorney to help you with the waiver.

Source: USCIS Fee Waiver Guidance

If I request a waiver of the fee, will USCIS deny my application?

No, USCIS will not deny your application simply because you asked not to pay the fee. Your ability to pay the filing fee does not affect your eligibility for TPS. If USCIS denies your fee waiver application, it will allow you to resubmit your application with the appropriate fee.

Source: USCIS Fee Waiver Guidance

Will asking for a fee waiver delay my application?

Yes, but it is not significant. As of the day of this Q & A writing, USCIS is working hard to make a decision on a fee waiver request within five (5) business days.

Source: USCIS February 3, 2010 Stakeholder Call

Can every Haitian get TPS?

No. First, only Haitians who continuously resided in the US on or before January 12, 2011 and who continuously physically present in the US since July 23, 2011 are eligible for TPS. Secondly, certain immigration laws still apply for TPS applicants including laws denying an immigration status because of a criminal conviction or involvement in immigration fraud. A waiver is available for some grounds of inadmissibility, (Form I-601). Warning! If you have ever been arrested, you should get advice from an immigration attorney before filing for TPS or contacting any immigration officials. See Immigration Specialists.

Source: USCIS Haitian TPS and Federal Register

Can I get TPS if I came to this country without the US government knowing? For example, if I took a boat here.

Yes. Coming to or living in this country without a lawful immigration status does not stop you from getting TPS, unless other inadmissibility rules apply. Consult an experienced immigration attorney. See Immigration Specialists.

Source: USCIS Haitian TPS and Federal Register

If I get TPS, can I travel in and out of the country?

It depends but probably not. It is very important that you speak to an immigration attorney before traveling outside of the country because there can be severe immigration consequences for traveling abroad. Immigration rules about whether you can reenter the United States still apply to TPS recipients. You may not be able to come back into the country if you leave even if you have permission from USCIS in the form of advanced parole. For example, if your visa expired more than six months before receiving TPS, you will not be able to reenter after departing the US and may be placed in removal proceedings.

Source: Immigration and Nationality Act

I have overstayed my original visa. If I apply for TPS now will immigration officials arrest me and deport me when TPS expires in 18 months?

There are a number of factors to think about when you apply for TPS. Often the benefits of TPS outweigh the risks.

1. TPS for Haitians was extended beyond the initial 18 months to January 22, 2016.

2. Five other countries have TPS right now. Those countries have had TPS for an average of 12 years. For some countries, TPS has been extended over 10 times! It is likely that Haiti's recovery from the earthquake will take more than 18 months.

3. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s top priority for immigration enforcement is to focus on immigrants with criminal records that make them “removable”.

Source: Executive Office for Immigration Review and ICE Annual Report
Created May 2010

If I get TPS, can I apply for my relatives in Haiti to come to the United States?

No, TPS beneficiaries cannot request immigrant visas on behalf of their relatives. 

Source:  Immigration and Nationality Act

Get Legal Help

Before you talk to USCIS always speak with an Immigration Specialist.

Get Legal Help

Before you talk to USCIS always speak with an Immigration Specialist.


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