The United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (hereinafter referred to as “USCIS”) announced on July 8, 2016, that President Obama’s administration is extending the temporary protected status (hereinafter referred to as “TPS”) for eligible nationals of El Salvador from the current expiration date of September 9, 2016.  The extension is for eighteen months.  Therefore, the new expiration date is March 9, 2018.  As you may recall, El Salvador was designated for TPS in 2001 following a series of severe earthquakes.  The USCIS has determined that an extension is warranted because the conditions persist and temporarily prevent El Salvador from handling the proper return of its nationals.

TPS is a temporary immigration status granted to eligible nationals of a country (in this case El Salvador) or persons without nationality who last resided in El Salvador designated for TPS under the Immigration & Naturalization Act. During the period for which a country is designated TPS, TPS beneficiaries are eligible to remain in the U.S. and may obtain work authorization. However, once the designation is terminated, the beneficiaries return to the same immigration status they maintained before the TPS or any other status they might have obtained while registered for TPS. Therefore, Salvadorians do not get any other status (i.e., permanent resident status) based on the TPS. However, recent case developments have been authorizing adjustment of status for TPS holders when they have obtained a parole, have left and returned to the United States.

Who is eligible to register for TPS for El Salvador?

In order to qualify, you must:

1.         Be a national of El Salvador or an individual who last resided in El Salvador and doesn’t have any nationality;

  1. Have continuously resided in the U.S. since February 13, 2001;
  2. Have been continuously and physically present in the U.S. since March 9, 2001;
  3. Satisfactorily complete routine background checks required of all applicants; and
  4. Meet the other eligibility criteria set forth in the Immigration & Naturalization Act.

If you were already receiving TPS immigration benefits, your benefits will expire on September 9, 2016.  Therefore, you must register in order to get the employment authorization card extended to March 9, 2017, as well as your immigration status.

The USCIS set a sixty day re-registration period which started on July 8, 2016 and will end on September 6, 2016.  If you fail to re-register in a timely manner during the re-registration period without good cause will result in a withdrawal of the TPS immigration benefits.  You must re-register by filing form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status and form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.  Of course, you must pay the appropriate fees or file the Fee Waiver Request.

The fees are approximately $450. 

Nationals of El Salvador who failed to register the first time in 2001 may still be eligible if the following conditions are met:

1.         The person is a national of El Salvador or a person without nationality who last resided in El Salvador;

  1. Continuously resided in the U.S. since February 13, 2001;
  2. Have been continuously physically present in the U.S. Since March 9, 2001; and
  3. Complete the routine background checks.

If you are going to register late (i.e., before September of 2016), you must also demonstrate that at the time of the initial designation of El Salvador as a TPS country in 2001, you were a valid non-immigrant status, granted voluntary departure, relief from removal, or had a pending application for: change of status, adjustment of status, asylum, voluntary departure, or any relief from removal or pending appeals, were a parolee or you were the spouse of a TPS beneficiary. Therefore, you should contact an attorney if you believe you are eligible for late filing or re-register or if you were a national of El Salvador and was present in the U.S. in 2001.  The Immigration & Naturalization Act and the immigration laws are complex and you need the help of an immigration attorney to navigate through them.

Finally, if you already had an employment authorization card and it was set to expire on September 9, 2016, it will be automatically extended for six months. However, we suggest you file as soon as you can the Form I-765.

You should remember that this article is not intended to provide you with legal advice; it is intended only to provide guidance about the TPS. Furthermore, the article is not intended to explain or identify all potential issues that may arise in connection with the filing of a TPS petition. Each case is fact-specific and therefore similar cases may have different outcomes.

I represent individuals in immigration cases. If you have any questions or concerns about an immigration case or potential case, you can call me at (315) 422-5673, send me a fax at (315) 466-5673, or e-mail me at The Law Office of Jose Perez is located at 120 East Washington Street, Suite 925, Syracuse, New York 13202. Now with offices in Buffalo and Rochester!!! Please look for my next article in the September edition.

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