Where Can I Travel With TPS?
TPS Holders May Receive Travel Authorization
TPS is a humanitarian effort the United States uses to protect people who are citizens or last habitually resided in countries where circumstances may be dangerous for them to return.
People who receive TPS aren’t immigrants, and they won’t have access to all of the same rights and responsibilities as green card holders or citizens. TPS recipients may still be allowed to travel if they follow the proper process. Here’s what you need to know about traveling with temporary protected status.
What Is TPS?
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a special immigration status given to foreign nationals from designated countries. The Department of Homeland Security can allow temporary protected status if it’s unsafe for people to return to their home country or if their home country is otherwise unable to welcome them back.
TPS is often awarded to people who come from countries that have been heavily stricken by natural disasters, military action, or armed conflict. The U.S. government doesn’t want to deport people to a country where many people’s lives may be in danger or to a country that experienced significant destruction.
TPS doesn’t extend indefinitely. The duration of TPS status will eventually come to an end unless the Department of Homeland Security decides to extend TPS for people from specific countries. Eligible people can reapply for TPS and request an extension if the U.S. government recognizes the dangerous or disastrous situation in their home country to be ongoing or worsening.
People who receive TPS status aren’t considered immigrants. They’re allowed to remain in the United States and cannot be detained based on their immigration status.
People with TPS are allowed to apply for other relevant immigrant and non-immigrant visas during their TPS period. If they’re granted a different type of visa, their status changes from TPS to the status awarded.
Who Is Eligible for TPS?
Ongoing circumstances in the following countries allow certain citizens of these countries to obtain TPS in the United States:
- Burma (Myanmar).
- El Salvador.
- South Sudan.
Every country will have its own designation date, registration date, and date for continuous physical presence in the United States. TPS is only granted to people who were already physically present within the United States at the time citizens of that country became eligible for TPS. Temporary protected status does not apply to foreign nationals who arrive after the designation date or the date for continuous physical presence in the United States.
You need to check your eligibility requirements before applying for TPS. If you don’t meet the requirements and you can’t prove that you’ve been continuously present in the United States since the required date, you won’t be granted TPS. You also need to be sure that your country’s circumstances warranted a TPS designation from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
TPS won’t be granted to convicted felons, people deemed to be a national security risk, people who have been banned from entering the United States, and people who have previously allowed their TPS to expire without re-registering.
How Do You Obtain TPS?
If you’re eligible, you obtain TPS by registering with USCIS. You’re allowed to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) at the same time. USCIS requires people to send their registration documents and accompanying petitions to specific locations. The mailing address varies depending on what state you currently reside in.
USCIS will respond with a decision. If you’re approved for TPS, you’ll be issued the necessary documents to prove you’re under the umbrella of protected status and your employment authorization card if you’ve requested them.
When Can You Travel With TPS?
People with TPS can travel after receiving prior authorization. Individuals with pending green card applications are required to request travel authorization prior to leaving the country. Travel documents expire after a designated period of time, and recipients of these documents must return to the United States before their permission window expires.
TPS recipients are allowed to travel with a special document similar to the travel document people with pending adjustment of status applications can use. If you leave without a travel document or return after your travel document expires, you won’t be allowed into the United States.
You must present valid travel documentation at a recognized point of entry when you return to be allowed re-entry. You can be detained if your documents aren’t correct.
How Long Does It Take To Get TPS Travel Authorization?
It can take up to one full year to be granted TPS travel authorization. USCIS has the power to make decisions to expedite certain documents on a case-by-case basis. If it’s an emergency, you can speak with USCIS about your situation. Requesting expedited approval of your travel document doesn’t guarantee that you will receive one.
If you believe there’s a chance that you may want to travel outside of the United States while you still have TPS, it’s best to preemptively apply for travel authorization. It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it, especially if you have family members abroad that you may need to visit while your TPS designation is still active.
What Happens If You Don’t Get Approved for a Travel Document?
If you don’t get approved for a travel document, leaving the United States would prevent you from re-entering. It’s still okay to go if you intend to permanently relocate to a different country. You just won’t be allowed back into the United States without a visa.
If you plan to return to the United States for an extended period of time, you need to reapply for a travel document. The most common reason travel documents are denied is errors in filing. It may be worth having a lawyer review your form with you and help you gather the required information to properly complete your travel document if you aren’t sure you’re doing it correctly.
Where Can I Travel With TPS?
TPS travel authorization doesn’t restrict the destinations where you can travel. You’re responsible for securing the proper permission to visit a specific country if they require a visitor’s visa.
Your nationality or country of origin will be your home country for the purposes of travel. You won’t be traveling with a United States passport or a travel visa that originated in the United States because you don’t have documented immigration status within the US.
You don’t have to specify your exact travel destination when applying for TPS, which can be particularly helpful if you have family members who have been displaced or may become displaced as a result of events taking place in your home country. For example, many Ukrainians fled to Poland, Germany, Romania, and the Czech Republic to escape the armed conflict. If you are a Ukrainian refugee and your family from Ukraine relocates to a different country, a travel document would allow you to visit them anywhere.
How Long Is a TPS Travel Document Valid?
A TPS travel document is typically valid for one year from the date it was issued. Travel documents cannot be extended or renewed. You must return to the United States before your travel document expires. You may not request an extension from outside of the country.
If you need to travel again, you’ll need to start the process again from the very beginning. You’re required to file for a new travel document and wait at the beginning of the queue. Documents are always processed in order, even for people who have obtained travel documents in the past.
You can request a new travel document as soon as your first document expires. If you have an ongoing immigration case with USCIS for another purpose (like marrying a U.S. citizen or obtaining long-term employment through a U.S. employer), you may have other options.
If you’re applying for a green card, spending more time outside of the country than inside of the country can give USCIS the impression that you don’t intend to make the United States your permanent residence.
Do You Need Legal Assistance With Traveling With TPS?
If you are currently in the United States on Temporary Protected Status, it’s important to follow the rules and guidelines for your status. TPS is a non-immigrant status, which means you can be deported for breaking the rules or traveling without proper permission.
The immigration law team and Cohen, Tucker + Ades may be able to assist you with traveling as a TPS recipient. Contact us for a consultation to review the details of your case.