Form I-821 Application Guide: Navigating Your Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a relief mechanism granted by the United States to eligible nationals from countries designated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent its nationals from returning safely or, in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately. Form I-821 is the official document used to apply for TPS. Individuals eligible for TPS include those who are already in the United States and who are nationals of a country designated for TPS, or persons without nationality who last resided in the designated country.
The application process for TPS involves submitting Form I-821 along with the required documentation to demonstrate eligibility. The conditions prompting TPS designation typically include ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, epidemics, or
other extraordinary and temporary conditions. In addition to providing protection from deportation, those granted TPS may also be eligible for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), allowing them to work legally in the United States for the duration of the TPS designation.
Filing the Form I-821 necessitates careful attention to detail and adherence to the instructions provided by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Applicants must submit the necessary evidence and fees unless fee waivers are granted in certain circumstances. Moreover, certain individuals may file Form I-765 concurrently to request an EAD. The process emphasizes the importance of maintaining legal status and the ability to work as it relates to the wider integration and support of immigrants affected by instability in their home countries.

Eligibility Criteria

The Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), has strict eligibility criteria that applicants must meet. These include specific nationality requirements, continuous residence in the United States, and strict physical presence mandates.

Nationality Requirements

To be eligible for TPS under Form I-821, an individual must be a national of a country designated for TPS by the United States Secretary of Homeland Security. Alternatively, individuals without nationality who last resided habitually in a designated country may also qualify.

Continuous Residence

The applicant must have been continuously residing in the United States since the date specified for their country under TPS designation. Any departures from the U.S. during this period could affect eligibility.

Physical Presence

Applicants must be physically present in the United States from the date their country was designated for TPS. This presence must be maintained continuously from that date until filing the Form I-821.

Application Process

The proper completion of Form I-821 and provision of the relevant supporting documentation are essential in applying for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Applicants should ensure they remit the correct fees to avoid delays.

Filing Form I-821

Applicants must accurately complete Form I-821, which is used to request Temporary Protected Status. Individuals hailing from designated countries or persons without nationality who last resided habitually in those countries are eligible to file. The form must be filed during the open initial registration or re-registration period.

Supporting Documentation

Supporting documentation is critical to substantiate one’s eligibility for TPS. This documentation includes evidence of identity and nationality, date of entry into the United States, and continuous residence. Relevant documents may consist of birth certificates, passports, or other national identity documents with photographs and/or fingerprints.

Fees and Payment

Payment of the appropriate fees is pivotal for the application to be processed. The fees cover the cost of filing Form I-821 and, if applicable, an Application for Employment Authorization (I-765). Fee amounts and payment methods are detailed in the form instructions, and waivers may be available for those who cannot pay.

Employment Authorization

When an individual applies for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) using Form I-821, they also have the option to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). This critical document allows TPS beneficiaries to work legally in the United States during their designated status.

Applying for EAD

Applicants seeking employment authorization must complete and submit Form I-765Application for Employment Authorization, concurrently with their TPS application (Form I-821). It is important for applicants to accurately complete all required sections to avoid processing delays. The following elements are essential when applying:

  • Proper Completion of the Form: Ensuring all the information is accurate and complete.
  • Supporting Documentation: Submission of necessary evidence as per the form instructions.
  • Filing Fee or Fee Waiver: Including the correct filing fee unless a fee waiver request is approved.

Renewal Process

The EAD for TPS beneficiaries needs periodic renewal, typically aligning with the extension of TPS designations. For renewal, individuals need to:

  1. Prepare a new Form I-765.
  2. Submit the form within the specified re-registration period announced by USCIS.
  3. Include new evidence if there have been any changes to the original TPS application or if specifically requested by USCIS.

Completing these steps promptly ensures maintenance of lawful employment status without interruption.

Travel Guidelines

Form I-821, when filed for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), may involve considerations regarding international travel. Applicants should understand the protocols for requesting travel authorization and the constraints that accompany it.

Advance Parole

Those who possess or seek TPS and wish to travel outside the United States must obtain an Advance Parole Document before departure. To apply for Advance Parole, individuals must file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, with the appropriate fee or fee waiver request. It’s critical to note that the approval of Advance Parole is not guaranteed and one should not make irreversible travel plans until it is received.

  • Processing Time: The normal processing time for Form I-131 can vary, making it advisable for applicants to apply well in advance of any planned travel.
  • Valid Period: Advance Parole is typically valid for multiple entries until the expiration date listed on the document.

Travel Restrictions

Traveling outside of the United States without Advance Parole could lead to the abandonment of one’s TPS application, which may result in an inability to re-enter the U.S. or adjust one’s status. Even with Advance Parole, re-entry to the U.S. is not guaranteed—it is subject to the discretion of immigration officers at the port of entry.

  • Risk of Denied Re-entry: Even with an Advance Parole Document, if an individual has been unlawfully present in the U.S. prior to filing Form I-821, they may face risks upon attempting re-entry to the U.S.
  • Immigration Inspection: Upon return to the U.S., individuals will undergo an immigration inspection. Maintaining all necessary documents is crucial for re-entry.

Individuals considering travel should consult with an immigration attorney to discuss the specific risks associated with leaving the United States.

Extensions and Re-registration

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beneficiaries must navigate the processes of extension and re-registration to maintain their status. These procedures are time-sensitive and require a clear understanding of eligibility and deadlines.

Eligibility for Extension

To qualify for an extension of TPS, individuals must already possess TPS status and fulfill all the criteria set out by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Eligibility for an extension involves residing in the United States as of the date specified for their country’s TPS designation and continuing to meet the terms of TPS status.

Timelines for Re-registration

Re-registration timelines are strictly enforced dates by which current TPS holders must submit their renewal applications. Beneficiaries are advised to re-register during the 60-day period prior to the expiration of their current TPS status. USCIS provides specific re-registration dates for each country’s TPS designation. Failure to re-register within the given window may result in loss of TPS benefits, including employment authorization.

Status Adjustment

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders may find pathways to apply for a green card, participating in the status adjustment process when eligible.

Paths to Green Card

  • Eligibility: Individuals must check if they fall under specific categories that may render them eligible for permanent residency. These categories often include family relations, employment, or refugee/asylum status.
  • Immigrant Petitions: Those eligible for a green card typically require an immigrant petition filed on their behalf, usually by a family member or employer.

Adjustment of Status Process

  • Form I-485 Filing: Eligible individuals proceed by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
  • Visa Availability: They must ensure an immigrant visa number is available, if applicable, based on their priority date.
  • Attend Appointments: Applicants need to attend biometrics appointments at Application Support Centers and interviews if called for.

Legal Considerations

When applying for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) via Form I-821, applicants must navigate complex immigration laws and ensure compliance with changing conditions.

Immigration Advice

It is crucial that applicants do not misconstrue the guidance on Form I-821 as legal advice. Immigration laws are intricate, and mistakes can lead to application denial or legal complications. Applicants are strongly encouraged to seek assistance from a licensed immigration attorney or an accredited representative for legal counsel.

Change of Conditions

The conditions under which TPS is granted can change due to shifting political landscapes or alterations in country conditions. If an applicant’s circumstances change, or if the designated TPS country’s status is modified, one must timely update their application to reflect these changes. Failure to comply with the updated requirements can result in loss of TPS and other immigration benefits.

Resources and Assistance

When applying for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) using Form I-821, applicants have access to legal assistance and can easily contact USCIS for guidance throughout the process.

Finding Legal Assistance

Legal Aid Organizations: Applicants can seek help from nonprofit organizations that provide legal aid services. AILA’s Immigration Lawyer Search is a resource to find attorneys specializing in immigration law, including TPS applications.

Pro Bono Services: Some law firms offer pro bono services for immigration cases. Applicants can check with local bar associations or legal aid clinics for such opportunities.

USCIS Contact Information

USCIS Website: For detailed information, forms, and updates, the USCIS official website (uscis.gov) is a crucial resource.

Method Details
Phone Call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283.
Ask Emma Use the virtual assistant “Emma” on the USCIS website for quick answers to questions.
InfoPass Schedule an appointment through the InfoPass system for in-person assistance at a local USCIS office.