The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is currently accepting re-registration applications from Nicaraguan and Honduran beneficiaries of temporary protected status (TPS). The re-registration period will remain open from December 15, 2017, through February 13, 2018.
TPS is a temporary immigration status which may be accorded to certain citizens of a foreign country who are physically present in the United States when the Secretary of Homeland Security determines that conditions in their home country prevent their safe return. Such conditions may include ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. Beneficiaries of TPS are not removable from the United States, can obtain employment authorization documents (EADs), and may be granted travel authorization.
TPS for both Nicaraguans and Hondurans was implemented on January 5, 1999, on environmental disaster grounds following Hurricane Mitch.
In November of 2017, former Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke announced that the conditions within Nicaragua no longer warranted TPS designation and set a program expiration date of January 5, 2019. As a result, Nicaraguan TPS beneficiaries will lose the ability to work and remain in the United States after January 5, 2019, unless they obtain another form of lawful immigration status by that date.
Concurrently, former Acting Secretary Duke also announced that no determination had been made regarding the future of TPS for Honduran nationals due to the need for further assessment of in-country conditions. Accordingly, the Honduran TPS program was automatically extended for an additional six months, through July 5, 2018.
Current Nicaraguan and Honduran beneficiaries of TPS may file applications through February 13, 2018, to re-register and renew their EADs. Renewed EADs for Nicaraguan beneficiaries will be issued valid through the program’s expiration date on January 5, 2019. Renewed EADs for Honduran beneficiaries will be issued valid through July 5, 2018.
Applicants from both countries who timely file their re-registration and renewal applications before February 13, 2018, will receive automatic EAD extensions through July 4, 2018. This will allow such individuals to continue working while the EAD applications are adjudicated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a process which can take several months.
The Secretary of Homeland Security is required to reassess the TPS status of Honduran nationals at least 60 days in advance of the current program’s end date on July 5, 2018. At that time, the Secretary will determine whether to extend, redesignate, or terminate TPS for Hondurans.
Ogletree Deakins’ Immigration Practice Group will continue to monitor developments with respect to TPS programs and will report information as it becomes available.