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Filing Form I-821 for Temporary Protected Status

Filing Form I-821 for Temporary Protected Status

TPS is for individuals that are residents of countries that have temporary protected status (TPS). If you are eligible for TPS, you can apply to stay in the United States temporarily, as well as apply for a temporary work visa. We will discuss what temporary protected status is, how you are eligible, and the steps it takes to file Form I-821 to apply for TPS.

Temporary Protected Status: What Is TPS?

Temporary protected status is granted to individuals who are nationals of a country where it is designated as unsafe for return. It is possible that the foreign country is in such unrest that it can’t let its citizens return.

TPS may be given to countries that are:

  • Experiencing an ongoing conflict such as a civil war
  • In an epidemic
  • Have suffered from a natural disaster such as a hurricane
  • Undergoing temporary unsafe conditions that are considered out of the ordinary

What Is Form I-821?

Form I-821 is the application for your individual temporary protected status. If you are from a country on the TPS list, you can file this TPS form as a foreign national. The form grants you TPS and with it, you can apply for Form I-765, Request for Employment Authorization.

Form I-821 protects foreign nationals from these designated countries, allowing you to come to or remain in the United States when it’s not safe for you to return to your home country. The protected status is determined by the Department of Homeland Security under the pretense that your country is unsafe due to political, social, or economic issues and/or unrest.

TPS Status Eligibility

When you are a citizen of a country on the TPS list, you are able to file Form I-821, but there are also additional eligibility requirements you need to meet in order to apply for your personal TPS. The eligibility requirements for TPS include:

  • You are a national of the TPS country—if you are not, you must have resided in the TPS country
  • Your application is filed during your country’s registration or re-registration period
  • If you file late, you meet the requirements for your country’s extension period
  • As of your country’s most recent designation date, you have been physically present in the United States—this is called continuously physically present (CPP)
  • You have been in the United States with continuously residing (CR) requirements
  • You have not been convicted of felonies in the U.S.
  • You are not found inadmissible

If you have not been continuously residing in the U.S., there may be an exception depending on the reasons for your departure. If you left the U.S. briefly and casually, you may be able to let U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) know about your departure(s) so that you may possibly be excused from the CR rule.

According to USCIS, you may not be eligible for TPS if you are subject to any of the mandatory bars to asylum. If you have participated in any of the following activities, you will not be eligible nor be able to maintain TPS status:

  • Persecuting another individual
  • Participating in the persecution of another individual
  • Engaging in terrorist activity
  • Inciting terrorist activity

You may also not be eligible if you fail to re-register for TPS without good cause. When you do get TPS, you must re-register every time your country’s re-registration period occurs. If you do not, you will lose your TPS.

TPS Immigration: Benefits of Temporary Protected Status

Once you are granted TPS, you cannot be deported from the United States. With TPS, you may be allowed travel authorization in some cases.

With TPS, you are also allowed to do the following:

  • File Form I-765 to receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
  • Apply for a non-immigrant visa, such as a temporary work visa if you have your EAD TPS
  • Apply for immigration benefits and/or protection. These must be specific and you need to be eligible for individual benefits
  • File for adjustment of status with an immigrant petition*

*Note: TPS itself does not create a path to lawful permanent residency; you can only file for adjustment of status once you receive an immigrant petition.

TPS Countries

The Department of Homeland Security designates countries for TPS. Each country has its own set of information, including:

  • Registration period
  • Designated through period
  • Federal Registration Notice Citation
  • And more

The following are the list of countries that are currently under temporary protected status, designated by the Department of Homeland Security:

  • Burma (Myanmar)
  • El Salvador
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Nepal
  • Nicaragua
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • South Sudan
  • Syria
  • Venezuela
  • Yemen

TPS countries are subject to change and/or may be added to the homeland security TPS list. Check with your immigration lawyer to see if your country has temporary protection status.

TPS Application Documents Needed

Though you do need to present many documents as evidence for eligibility, there are two main TPS USCIS forms that must be filed for your actual application.

Form I-821

As discussed above, Form I-821 is the application for temporary protected status. It is, first and foremost, how to apply for TPS. We will go through the step-by-step process of filing your Form I-821 below.

Form I-765, Request for Employment Authorization

In order to be employed in the United States, you must file Form I-765 with USCIS. The form is a request for an EAD. You can apply for an EAD at any point as a TPS, not just during your initial application. However, if you do submit both Form I-765 and I-821 simultaneously, you may be able to receive your TPS work permit sooner than if you filed the forms separately.

How to Apply for TPS: Filing Form I-821

Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status, is an 11-part application form. It’s important that every part of your application is filled out fully. No section should be left blank, or you may be denied TPS.  For purposes of sections 4, 5, and 6, late initial application means you are applying for the first time after the initial deadline has already passed.

Part 1

Part 1 of Form I-821 is the “Type of Application” you wish to fill out. You will either choose box 1.a. if you are filling out the application for the first time, or 1.b. if you are re-registering for TPS. In this part, you will also indicate whether or not you are filing Form I-765 along with your application and your country of origin. Remember, TPS is for specified countries, so your country must be a designated TPS location to file your application.

Part 2

Part 2 is “Information About You,” where you will give your first, middle, and last names. If you have used other names in your lifetime, you will also fill those out in this section.

You will also include your mailing address and the physical address you have in the United States.

Questions 7-10 are information that is pertinent to your identity—if you can apply them to the form—including your A-Number, USCIS Online Account Number, U.S. Social Security Number, and your date of birth.

You will also fill out other basic information about you including different countries of residence and marital information.

Part 2 also includes “U.S. Entry Information.” In this subsection, you will inform USCIS of your most recent entry into the United States. You will also tell which visa, if any, you used to enter the United States. If you entered unlawfully, fill out “no status.” You will include travel information like your passport and/or travel document number.

If you are currently an immigrant or have gone through immigration proceedings, you will fill out the requested information in Part 2, as well.

Part 3

“Biographic Information” includes information about your ethnicity, race, height, weight, eye color, and hair color.

Part 4

Part 4 is “Information About Your Current Spouse” and should only be completed if you are filing a late initial application. You will include information about your spouse including their mailing address, date of birth, and date of your marriage.

Part 5

Similar to Part 4, you will only fill out Part 5, “Information About Your Former Spouses,” if you are filing a late initial application. If this section applies to you, you will provide the names, information, and reason for divorce.

Part 6

If you have children, you will provide information about them in Part 6. Again, this section is only filled out if you are filing a late initial application.

Part 7

Entitled “Eligibility Standards,” Part 7 asks you to provide reasons why you are eligible for TPS. You will include information about:

  • Your nationality or country that you resided in
  • Your entry date into the U.S.
  • Other countries you have traveled to and entered, plus dates you stayed there
  • Any other immigration status you may hold in another country

The form asks for more detail about your travels and citizenship/nationality in other countries.

Part 7 also asks you to include information about your immigration and criminal history, including if you were ever arrested or detained for a criminal offense, and if you have been a participant in human rights violations. There are a series of questions about your involvement or engagement in any sort of human rights violations to determine if you are inadmissible. You will also include any TPS medical conditions you may have.

If you were/are involved in any of the listed violations, you will have to explain the circumstances of your involvement in Part 11. You may be able to apply for a waiver with Form I-601 if you are eligible. Speak with your immigration attorney if you are in violation of any laws that might make you inadmissible for TPS.

Part 8

This section is for the “Applicant’s Statement, Contact Information, Certification, and Signature.” You will indicate whether or not you can read English and understand Form I-821 or used a translator. You will also fill out your contact information.

Sign your name and put the date of signature in this section. If you do not fill out this section, your application will be denied.

Part 9

If you used a translator, you will put their contact information and certification in this section. Your translator will also need to provide their signature.

Part 10

Part 10 is entitled “Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature of the Person Preparing this Application, if Other Than the Applicant.” If you used a preparer, such as an immigration attorney or legal assistant, they will put their information and signature in this section.

Part 11

Any additional information that needs to be included in your Form I-821 is to be filled out in this section.

After Filling Form I-821

You will submit your completed application to USCIS.  You will also need to pay the filing fee, which differs depending on your current application status and age.

Temporary Protected Status Checklist

TPS eligibility is determined by the forms you file and the evidence presented. TPS requirements include the following checklist of TPS documents:

  • Form I-821
  • Form I-765 if you are applying for employment authorization
  • Proof of nationality: you can present evidence such as your passport, birth certificate, or valid national ID card
  • Evidence that you have stayed in the United States as a continuous resident: you can include documents such as utility bills, rent receipts, school records, medical records, and/or affidavits
  • Date of entry documents: these may include your stamped passport or I-94 arrival/departure record
  • Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility, if you are found inadmissible
  • Any TPS fee associated with the forms you must submit

TPS FAQs

What Is the Cost of Form I-821?

Form I-821 fees depend on your age, whether or not a biometrics exam is necessary, and if you are filing your Form I-765. Totals can range from $0 to $545. TPS renewal costs also range depending on the previously mentioned factors, but the Form I-821 fee is $0.

How Long Does it Take to Get TPS Approved?

TPS Processing Time for Form I-821 is around six months, according to USCIS. Other documents associated with your application may lengthen the application time.

Where Do I Send My TPS Application?

You may be able to submit your Form I-821 online, depending on what country has that option available. Each filing location is specific to the country with TPS.

Am I Allowed to Travel With TPS?

We often get the question “can TPS holders travel?” Yes, you are allowed to travel when you have temporary protected status, but you need to get travel authorization. In order to be authorized, apply for a Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.

If you do not fill out the form and leave the United States, you (1) risk losing your TPS and (2) have the potential to be denied reentry into the United States. Think of your travel document as your TPS travel insurance, making it so you are eligible to travel.

Can I Get TPS Advanced Parole?

TPS advanced parole allows for international travel from the United States. You must apply separately from your application for TPS.

What Is the Difference Between TPS and Asylum?

Anyone can seek asylum if they are eligible, no matter where they are from. TPS, on the other hand, is for designated TPS countries only. Asylum also allows for the ability to seek lawful permanent residency (LPR); you may not go directly from TPS to LPR.

Does TPS Expire?

Your TPS timeline is on a per-country status. There is not an actual expiration for your status; the Secretary of Homeland Security determines the timeline for your country’s TPS.

Contact an Experienced Immigration Lawyer Today

The immigration and naturalization attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates P.C. have over 70 years of combined experience in immigration law. We understand the intricacies of TPS immigration law and what USCIS expects from applicants. Being in the position of having TPS eligibility can be frightening and overwhelming. We are here to help guide you through the process of filing Form I-821 and will answer any questions you have about temporary protected status. You do not have to go through this time alone. Contact us at 312.444.1950 or fill out an online contact form today.

We're looking forward to hearing from you!