Temporary Protected Status provides limited protections, but still offers lifesaving humanitarian relief for those who cannot safely return to their countries.
TPS is a statutory program administered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The program offers work authorization and deportation protections for individuals in the U.S. who cannot safely return to their countries. Foreign-born individuals can apply for TPS if Congress or the Secretary of Homeland Security issues a designation that “conditions in the country temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely,” often due to violent conflict or natural disaster. Many TPS recipients entered the U.S. initially as temporary visitors, individuals seeking humanitarian relief, or without immigration status.
Upon registration with and approval by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), TPS holders are protected from deportation and can apply for work authorization. Only individuals already in the U.S. when a designation is announced are eligible to receive TPS, leaving no protections for newly arriving undocumented individuals. The program is not a substitute for refugee programs that provide relief to individuals actively fleeing dangerous conditions.
Fourteen countries are currently designated for Temporary Protected Status, and the program status varies by country. For example, the Trump Administration attempted to terminate designations for El Salvador (which had a TPS holder population of 198,000 in 2021), Honduras (60,000), Nepal (10,000), and Nicaragua (3,000),5 but federal courts blocked these attempts, stalling their terminations and allowing current TPS holders from those countries to retain their TPS-granted status for the time being, including work authorization and deportation protections. However, without redesignating these countries, new applicants from these countries are unable to apply, even if they meet other eligibility criteria.