Brief / Policy & Reports / Immigration / TPS

Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
5 Things to Know

Hundreds of thousands protected by the program have accessed protections and security in the United States for many years, and contribute significantly to the workforce and the economy

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) offers work authorization and deportation protections for individuals in the U.S. who cannot safely return to their home countries. TPS is a critical program that provides many immigrants an opportunity to remain in the U.S. and work while conditions in their home countries remain unsafe for them to return. TPS also benefits the United States, providing important protections to families throughout communities and driving important contributions to the U.S. economy and workforce.

The Biden Administration has taken steps to extend TPS protections for immigrants from certain countries devastated by natural disaster and war. However, many more individuals currently in the U.S. need protections from deportation to countries where their lives would be at risk, and the Administration must continue to use this important authority to protect immigrants living in the U.S. today.

Here are five key things you need to know about TPS today:

Most TPS holders have been living, working, and contributing to the U.S. economy for many years analysis shows that many TPS holders have been in the United States for a very long time, having set down roots, pursuing careers, building families, and integrating into American communities and society; in fact, TPS holders from El Salvador and Honduras, who make up a significant share of the current TPS population, have lived in the U.S. for an average of 27 years.

Many TPS recipients are deeply ingrained into American families and communities. For instance, estimates that more than 800,000 U.S. citizens live in households with at least one current TPS holder or TPS-eligible person, including some 400,000 U.S. citizen children.

Most TPS holders have labor force participation rates over 80%. They hold more than 600,000 jobs, filling important gaps in an economy plagued by persistent labor shortages. TPS holders
annually contribute some $22 billion in wages to the national GDP. And while many live in states with very large immigrant populations like Florida, Texas, California, and New York, several other states–New Jersey, Georgia, Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina–are each home to thousands of TPS holders.

Because TPS holders have established such deep roots, abruptly forcing them out of the workforce and country would impose harmful economic consequences on the U.S. as well. Researchers estimate that ending TPS for El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti alone would result in a $45.2 billion reduction in GDP over a decade and cost employers nearly $1 billion in turnover costs. Deporting individuals who were previously protected would cost American taxpayers $3.1 billion.

2| Congress created TPS to protect and support immigrants in the U.S. while their home countries struggle with war, devastation, hunger, and chaos

Congress established TPS as part of the Immigration Act of 1990 to provide temporary reprieve from deportation and work authorization to certain immigrants who are unable to return to their home countries because of war, natural disaster, or other extraordinary circumstances.

According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), more than 350,000 TPS holders from 17 countries live in the U.S. today. With recent TPS designations and redesignations, however, the number of individuals eligible for TPS, those who have not formally applied or been approved, is significantly higher. In fact, estimates that about 350,000 additional individuals are currently eligible for TPS; in all, nearly 900,000 individuals were TPS holders or were eligible for TPS protections at the end of 2022.

Country Most Recent Decision Required Arrival Datea Expiration Dateb Individuals with TPSc
Afghanistan New designation March 15, 2022 November 20, 2023 1,585
Burma Extension and redesignation September 25, 2022 May 25, 2024 1,760
Cameroon New designation April 14, 2022 December 7, 2023 1,300
El Salvador Extensiond February 13, 2001 March 9, 2025 188,725
Ethiopia New designation October 20, 2022 June 12, 2024 910
Haiti Extension and redesignation November 6, 2022 Aug. 3, 2024 116,505
Honduras Extensiond December 30, 1998 July 5, 2025 56,840
Nepal Extensiond June 24, 2015 June 24, 2025 8,525
Nicaragaua Extensiond December 30, 1998 July 5, 2025 3,020
Somalia Extension and redesignation January 11, 2023 September 17, 2024 390
South Sudan Extension and redesignation September 4, 2023 May 3, 2025 100
Sudan (2022) New designation March 1, 2022 October 19, 2023 970
Syria Extension and redesignation July 28, 2022 March 31, 2024 3,955
Ukraine New designation April 11, 2022 October 19, 2023 22,480
Venezuela Extension March 8, 2021 March 10, 2024 201,895
Yemen Extension and redesignation December 29, 2022 September 3, 2024 1,530
Total 610,630

Source: Congressional Research Service, "Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure"
a. The arrival date represents the date from which individuals are required to have continuously resided in the United States in order to qualify for TPS. Unless a country is re-designated for TPS, the required arrival date does not change.
b. The expiration date represents the end of the most recent designation period and is subject to change based on future decisions of the Secretary of DHS. Expiration dates for recent designations may not yet be announced.
c. Counts of individuals with TPS are the most recent estimates provided by USCIS or DHS. Most counts were provided to the Congressional Research Service. Countries with a pending termination and a new designation may have individuals registered under both designations; the Total count does not count these individuals twice. Data for countries with relatively newer designations may not yet be available and are marked "N/A."
d. These designations were previously terminated, yet court injunctions the prevented terminations from taking effect, and DHS extended the validity of all TPS-related documents for beneficiaries of TPS for El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Sudan through June 30, 2024. DHS subsequently issued new designations for Haiti and Sudan; DHS has also rescinded the terminations for El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal and Nicaragua, and announced extensions for those countries. In announcing the extensions, DHS published estimates of the number of individuals from these countries who currently hold TPS (El Salvador-239,000; Honduras-76,000; Nepal-14,500; Nicaragua-4,000). These estimates are much larger than the estimates provided to CRS, and reflect more closely the estimates published by USCIS in 2022. For consistency, we have chosen to use only the CRS estimates in our table.

Many individuals protected by TPS have fled some of the most devastating natural disasters and armed conflicts of our time. The U.S. has protected them from deadly civil wars and natural disasters like Hurricane Mitch and devastating earthquakes. All told, these crises and their aftermath have taken the lives of nearly 4 million people in these countries, and dangerous conditions remain.

The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with certain agencies like the State Department, designates the countries eligible for TPS for up to 18 months. The designations can be subsequently extended, re-designated, or terminated. Extensions only provide protection to those already with TPS, whereas re-designations establish a new registration window for individuals who arrived after the initial designation.

The DHS Secretary can designate a country for TPS if there has been:

  • ongoing armed conflict
  • environmental disaster (like an earthquake, flood, drought, or epidemic), or
  • some other extraordinary conditions that would not allow their nationals to return.

3| TPS has strict eligibility requirements including limited registration windows, cutoff dates, and background and security checks

TPS is a narrow set of temporary protections available only to a limited population, a far cry from any sort of sweeping “amnesty.” These protections are not granted automatically; the application process requires eligible individuals to apply, pay a fee, and undergo a background check.

Only people who have been continuously present in the United States since the date of designation (or re-designation) and who timely register with the government are eligible. Anyone who arrives after the date of designation cannot enroll, precluding any sort of incentive for further immigration. In addition, in order to avail oneself of a country’s temporary extension, current TPS holders must re-register with the government and again pay a significant filing fee for work authorization.

TPS holders cannot confer their TPS immigration status to family members abroad nor use their TPS as a basis for sponsorship, regardless of the crises they may face, and they cannot access most federal public benefits.

4| The Biden Administration has extended TPS protections, in line with previous administrations controlled by both parties, but more must be done

TPS has been an impactful and beneficial program since it was established 30 years ago, and has been widely used by Presidential Administrations, both Republican and Democratic. Since TPS was established, new TPS designations for countries were issued six times during the George H.W. Bush Administration, 10 times during the Clinton Administration, twice during the George W. Bush Administration, eight times during the Obama Administration, and eight times so far during the Biden Administration.

Presidential Administration Date of Initial Designation Country Status Count of Redesignations
& Extensions
Date of Termination
George H.W. Bush November 29, 1990 El Salvador Terminated 0 January 1, 1999
March 27, 1991 Kuwait Terminated 0 March 27, 1992
March 27, 1991 Lebanon Terminated 1 April 9, 1993
March 27, 1991 Liberia Terminated 6 September 28, 1999
September 16, 1991 Somalia Active 24 September 17, 20243
August 10, 1992 Bosnia-Herzegovina Terminated 7 February 10, 2001
Bill Clinton August 27, 1997 Montserrat Terminated 5 August 27, 2004
November 4, 1997 Burundi Terminated 9 May 2, 2009
November 4, 1997 Sudan Terminated1 15 November 2, 2018
June 9, 1998 Kosovo Terminated 2 December 8, 2000
January 5, 1999 Honduras Terminated1 14 January 5, 2020
January 5, 1999 Nicaragua Terminated1 14 January 5, 2019
March 11, 1999 Guniea-Bissau Terminated 1 September 10, 2000
March 29, 2000 Angola Terminated 2 March 29, 2003
George W. Bush March 9, 2001 El Salvador Terminated1 12 September 9, 2019
October 1, 2002 Liberia Terminated 5 October 1, 2007
June 7, 2004 Rwanda Terminated 4 December 6, 1997
November 21, 2004 Sierra Leone Terminated 2 May 21, 2017
Barack Obama January 21, 2010 Haiti Terminated1 5 July 22, 2019
October 13, 2011 South Sudan Active 7 November 3, 20233
March 29, 2012 Syria Active 7 March 31, 20243
November 21, 2014 Guinea Terminated 1 May 21, 2017
November 21, 2014 Liberia Terminated 2 May 21, 2017
June 24, 2015 Nepal Terminated1 1 June 24, 2019
September 3, 2015 Yemen Active 5 September 3, 20243
Joe Biden March 9, 2021 Venezuela Active 1 March 10, 20243
May 25, 2021 Burma (Myanmar) Active 1 May 25, 20243
August 3, 2021 Haiti Active 1 August 3, 20243
April 19, 2022 Sudan Active 0 October 19, 20233
April 19, 2022 Ukraine Active 0 October 19, 20233
May 20, 2022 Afghanistan Active 0 November 20, 2023
June 7, 2022 Cameroon Active 0 December 7, 20233
December 12, 2022 Ethiopia Active 0 June 12, 20243

Since taking office, President Biden has returned to fully utilizing the TPS program. That counters President Trump’s efforts to end TPS protections for hundreds of thousands of individuals, despite evidence that their home countries are very unsafe.

In contrast, the Biden Administration has already announced TPS designations for multiple new countries, including Afghanistan, Burma, Cameroon, Ukraine, Venezuela, and a new designation for Haiti. The Administration also included a pathway to legal status and citizenship for many TPS holders in its proposed U.S. Citizenship Act (S. 348).

Many more individuals in the U.S., however, need protections from deportation to countries where their lives would be at risk. For instance, members of Congress and human rights advocates have proposed the addition of new TPS countries where conditions remain very unsafe, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala, Lebanon, Mali, Mauritania, and Pakistan. Each of these countries faces extraordinary human rights challenges, widespread violence, or recent climate-related events that warrant immediate TPS designations. Additionally, conditions remain unsafe in current TPS countries such as El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal, and Nicaragua, but the U.S. has not allowed new TPS registrations for these countries since 2018.

5| Most TPS holders do not have a pathway to permanent legal status, but Congress could change that

While the protections are intended to be temporary, conditions in many TPS countries have not yet improved enough to allow these individuals to return home, and the TPS holders have to stay in the U.S. continually to maintain protections. If the designations are terminated, most will not have any pathway to legal status in the country they have come to call home, and will face having to return or being put into deportation proceedings, separated from their jobs, their homes, and their U.S. citizen children. After two decades of working hard and following the rules, they deserve an opportunity to stay.

Congress must establish a legislative pathway for these long-standing residents to adjust to a permanent legal status and pursue citizenship. Such a pathway for TPS holders who have lived here for a long time would have been possible under the bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill passed by the Senate in 2013. More recently, the House of Representatives passed the American Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6) with strong bipartisan support in the 117th Congress, and a pathway for TPS holders was included in the President’s proposed U.S. Citizenship Act (S. 348). Today, the stakes are even higher, and the need for Congress to act is more urgent than ever.

Further Reading

For more detailed background on Temporary Protected Status, check out these explainers from experts at the Congressional Research Service, the Migration Policy Institute, the American Immigration Council, or the National Immigration Forum.

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