Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) is ending for El Salvador. Current El Salvador TPS beneficiaries will have until September 9, 2019 to make arrangements for departure or adjustment to an alternative legal status in the United States. While the Northern Virginia Immigration Law Firm strongly condemns this shortsighted administrative decision, it is now time to begin preparing for what comes next as many of our clients and those in our community are Salvadoran nationals.
On January 8, 2018, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen announced the government’s decision to terminate the TPS designation for El Salvador. This decision comes just two months prior to the conclusion of the current extension of the program through March 9, 2018. El Salvador was originally designated for TPS on March 9, 2001, and the program now provides safe harbor for as many as 200,000 Salvadoran nationals in the United States. The official announcement explains that the termination of El Salvador’s TPS designation is delayed by 18 months until September 9, 2019.
How do I extend my TPS through September 9, 2019?
Current TPS beneficiaries should wait until the new Federal Register and accompanying guidelines are published on the USCIS page for El Salvador TPS before attempting to re-register for TPS. USCIS will not accept any TPS applications for Salvadorans until it publishes guidelines here.
What will happen to me after TPS ends?
Unless Congress acts and passes a law protecting El Salvador TPS beneficiaries, anybody who is unable to obtain lawful immigration status prior to September 9, 2019 must return to El Salvador or they will be facing deportation from the United States. Continue reading for some options that may be available to you.
I have US Citizen family members; can I apply for a green card?
To be eligible for lawful permanent resident status and obtain a green card through your family, you must first demonstrate that an immigrant visa is immediately available to you by virtue of your family relationship to a U.S. citizen. Visas are immediately available to individuals who are parents of U.S. citizen children aged 21 years or older, and spouses of U.S. citizens. If you have such a U.S. citizen family member, you may be able to apply for a green card if you meet the other requirements.
The second requirement is that you have an “admission” to the United States. Many TPS beneficiaries entered the United States without inspection (illegally) and therefore do not have an lawful admission to the United States. If you have travelled outside of the United States while on TPS under Advance Parole, your reentry to the United States will constitute as an admission and you may be able to apply for a green card. Individuals residing in some states benefit from U.S. Court of Appeals decisions that say a grant of TPS is an admission for the purposes of applying for a green card. These states include: California, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee, and the territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. You may also have an admission to the United States if you entered lawfully with most types of non-immigrant visas and obtained TPS after that entry.
The final requirement is that you are admissible to the United States. Common grounds of inadmissibility include incidents relating to fraud, misrepresentation, criminal activity, prior immigration violations, and others. If you are admissible to the United States, you have entered the United States with permission, and you have a qualifying U.S. citizen family member willing to petition for you, you may be eligible to apply for a green card. If you believe you meet these requirements, you should immediately contact an experienced immigration attorney to discuss your case. You will not be able to adjust status from TPS after your TPS is terminated.
What if I have U.S. citizen family members but I do not have an admission to the United States?
If you are ineligible to apply for a green card because you were never lawfully inspected and admitted into the United States, you may be able to seek alternative relief from removal. One commonly known means of relief from removal is Cancellation of Removal for Non-Lawful Permanent Residents. It is expected that the government will seek to deport any TPS beneficiaries who remain in the United States past the deadline to leave, which is September 9, 2019. If you do not leave by that time and you are placed in removal proceedings before an Immigration Court, you may seek Cancellation of Removal if: (1) you have been present in the United States, continuously, for 10 years prior to receiving the Notice to Appear or committing an offense that makes you inadmissible to the United States; (2) you can demonstrate “good moral character” for the 10 years preceding the application for Cancellation of Removal; and (3) your removal from the United States would cause “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident spouse, parent, or child under 21 years of age. The most difficult requirement of these three is the hardship requirement because while most or all deportations cause some hardship, you must establish that the hardship caused to your qualifying family member is much worse than that normally suffered when a family member is deported. If you meet the other requirements for Cancellation of Removal, you should immediately contact an experienced immigration attorney to discuss your case.
What if I am subject to a prior deportation/removal order?
If you have previously been ordered deported or removed from the United States, you will become a priority for removal as soon as your TPS is terminated on September 9, 2019. You should immediately seek the advice of an experienced immigration attorney to discuss the possibilities of reopening your case.
If you have questions about how today’s announcement will affect you and your family, please contact the Northern Virginia Immigration Law Firm to schedule a consultation.
The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for legal advice in any case. Each case is different and what may work for some people may not work for you. If you are in any of the situations described in this post, you should seek representation from an experienced immigration attorney.