TPS re-registration closes for Honduras and Nicaragua

The last day for Hondurans and Nicaraguans to re-register for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is next Monday, June 3, 2013.

That is the deadline that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services stipulated for the closing of re-registrations when it announced the extension of TPS for Honduras and Nicaragua on April 3, 2013.

This week in my column "Consulta Migratoria" published online by several impreMedia publications including LaOpinió, I explain the process that Hondurans and Nicaraguans must follow to re-register for TPS in order to remain protected by the program.

Here is the text of the column:

Six days remain until the close of the re-registration period for the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program for Honduras and Nicaragua. The re-registration period began on April 3, 2013 and ends on Monday, June 3, 2013. If you do not register during the re-registration period, you may lose your TPS.

Hondurans and Nicaraguans eligible for re-registration will be able to remain lawfully in the United States for another 18 months from July 6, 2013 through January 5, 2015. The validity of work permits under TPS that expire on July 5, 2013 will be automatically extended until January 5, 2014, while applications are processed.

It is important to emphasize that although there is much talk that immigration reform will be passed this year, there is still no certainty. Even if a reform were to pass, it is not known how long it would take for a law to go into effect. Therefore, anyone eligible for TPS should re-register so as not to lose their legal status while we wait for a change in immigration laws that will provide a definitive path to permanent residency.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), during the last TPS registration period, approximately 67,000 people registered for TPS, most of them Hondurans. It is important that all of these individuals re-register for TPS if they are eligible so that they can continue to live and work legally in the United States.

To re-register, Hondurans and Nicaraguans must submit Forms I-821 and I-765 and send the corresponding fees to USCIS.

I recommend that you file electronically (e-filing). This way you will get an immediate receipt and avoid the possibility of the application getting lost in the mail. This option is not available for late initial enrollment or late re-enrollment.

Re-registration fees are $$85 for fingerprinting (children under 14 are exempt) and $$380 for a work permit, if needed.

If you need to renew your work permit, submit your renewal application immediately so that USCIS will provide you with a new work permit before July 5, 2013 when the current permit expires. Print a copy of the official TPS extension notice in case your employer needs to verify that your work permit has been automatically extended. A copy of the official notice for Honduras can be found here. here and for Nicaragua here.

If you do not have enough money to file because you are unemployed, earn below the poverty level, or receive public benefits such as Medi-Cal, Medicaid, or food stamps, you may be eligible to apply for a fee waiver using Form I-912.

Make sure that the information is complete and correct, that all forms are signed and that the money you send is the amount stipulated by USCIS, otherwise the application will be rejected. USCIS reports that these types of errors cause many applications to be rejected.

Persons who have been convicted of two misdemeanors or one felony are not eligible for TPS. Examples of misdemeanors are drunk driving and committing acts of domestic violence, among others. Consult with an immigration attorney before submitting your re-registration if you have been arrested or found guilty of any crime, including driving without a license.

If there is a force majeure reason that prevents you from re-registering on time, USCIS will accept late applications. Late applications must be accompanied by evidence of "good cause" for not filing by June 3, 2013.

Hondurans and Nicaraguans never before registered for TPS may be eligible for a late initial registration if they meet the proper requirements. One of them is to demonstrate that they have lived in the U.S. continuously since December 30, 1998 and have been physically in the country since January 5, 1999.

TPS does not lead to permanent residency in the United States. Someday the program will end. When that happens, you will revert to the immigration status you had before, such as being undocumented. If you have no other legal option to stay in the United States, you will be subject to removal from the country.

Consult with an immigration attorney as soon as possible to evaluate your legal options for permanent residency.

For more information and immigration tips, read my blog

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Nelson A. Castillo, Esq. is an immigration attorney and author of La Tarjeta Verde: Cómo Obtener la Residencia Permanente en los Estados Unidos (Green Card: How to Obtain Permanent Residence in the United States). He is a past President of the Hispanic National Bar Association and current President of the Los Angeles Westlake South Neighborhood Council. To contact Mr. Castillo's office, please call (213) 537-VISA (8472).