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By Kenneth S. Levine
On 11/6/2017 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued an announcement on the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program for citizens of Nicaragua and Honduras. Currently, there are approximately 60,000 Nicaraguans and Hondurans who reside and work in the U.S. under the TPS designation.
DHS announced that the TPS program for Nicaragua has been extended to 1/5/2019, at which time the TPS designation will be terminated. USCIS has advised Nicaraguans on TPS that between now and 1/5/2019 they must either seek a change of status to another visa category, or prepare to depart the United States.
TPS for Honduras has been extended for 6 months. However, according to DHS’s announcement, “it is possible that the TPS designation for Honduras will be terminated at the end of the six-month automatic extension with an appropriate delay.” As of today, TPS for Hondurans has been extended to July 5, 2018. DHS’s final decision regarding any additional extensions of Honduran TPS is expected by early 2018 once a new Secretary of Homeland Security has been confirmed by the Senate.
A decision by DHS on whether to extend or terminate the TPS program for citizens of El Salvador is expected by January 8, 2018.
While the general public may perceive the USCIS advisory to “seek a change of status to a different visa category” to be an easily attainable option, the reality is that TPS recipients must still satisfy the strict legal criteria for any requested visa type. For the vast majority of TPS recipients, that will prove difficult to achieve. Therefore, in assessing whether a TPS recipient qualifies for a different visa category, the analysis should necessarily include whether any options exist to pursue permanent residency.
For additional information related to this topic and for advice regarding how to navigate U.S. immigration laws you may contact Kenneth S. Levine of the law firm of Freeman, Mathis & Gary, LLP at (770-551-2700) or [email protected].