With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, many Ukrainians appear to be stranded in the United States and in danger of deportation to their war-torn country. Their only hope may be a program known s TPS: temporary protected status. This program was enacted by Congress in 1990 to provide shelter for persons whose home countries are deemed unsafe. Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security designated Ukraine as a country that should benefit from TPS.
The basics of TPS
The program was created as part of the Immigration Act of 1990. It was intended to provide a haven in the United States for persons whose home countries were suffering from natural disasters, protracted unrest, or conflict. The benefits of the program were first offered to persons from El Salvador who were fleeing a civil war. TPS protection has been extended to El Salvador, Nepal and Somalia. In March 2022, the Biden administration extended TPS eligibility to Ukrainian citizens due to the Russian invasion.
The Secretary of Homeland Security has the power to designate a country as eligible for its citizens who are in the United States and who are not U.S. citizens. Reasons for a TPS designation include:
- The existence of ongoing armed conflict, such as a civil war Or, as in the case of Ukraine, invasion by another country
- an environmental disaster, such as an earthquake, hurricane, drought, or epidemic
- and any other extraordinary and temporary conditions that render the country unsafe
Once a country has been given TPS status, its citizens may remain in the United States without any further action on their part. A person may be denied TPS status for a criminal conviction or participation in terrorist activities. If the Secretary ends a country’s TPS, the citizens of that country in the United States revert to their former immigration status.
The future of the TPS program is difficult to predict due to the intense partisanship in the United States Congress. Anyone who is worried about losing their TPS may wish to consult a knowledgeable immigration attorney for advice on their current status and the consequences of losing their TPS.