Is a late initial registration for TPS possible?

In my Consulta Migratoria® column this week I answer a question from a reader who wants to register for the first time for the Temporary Protected Status program for Salvadorans.

Each case is different and the answers vary depending on each person's immigration history.

Here I provide general answers to your questions. Please consult with an immigration attorney to receive personalized legal advice before starting any procedure.

This is the column:

I am Salvadoran, I have lived in the United States since March 2002. All these years I have sent TPS applications to immigration because they told me that I am eligible for the program.

I'm tired of sending applications to the government and getting nothing in return. Am I eligible for TPS or not? Should I keep sending TPS applications to immigration? -Carlos B.

Carlos, unfortunately, you have been misadvised. You are not eligible for the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program for Salvadorans because you arrived in the United States after the deadline required by law.

Salvadorans never before registered for TPS may be eligible for a late initial registration if they meet certain requirements. One of them is to demonstrate that they have lived in the United States continuously since February 13, 2001 and have been physically present in the country since March 9, 2001.

You arrived in the U.S. in March 2002. Therefore, you are not eligible for TPS.

Please stop wasting your money by submitting TPS applications to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

TPS re-registration for Salvadorans

Any Salvadoran currently enrolled in TPS has until March 9, 2015 to re-enroll in the program.

If you do not re-register on time, you could lose the right to live and work legally in the United States.

New arrivals from El Salvador are not eligible to register for TPS.

Late initial TPS registration for Salvadorans

USCIS allows late initial TPS registration for eligible Salvadorans who meet the proper requirements.

To be eligible for initial late registration for TPS, a Salvadoran:

Must be a citizen of El Salvador who has lived in the United States continuously since February 13, 2001 and has been physically present in the country since March 9, 2001.

2. Must not have been found guilty of two misdemeanors or one felony, or have committed acts that render the person inadmissible to the country.

3. Must demonstrate that during the initial registration period - March 9, 2001 through September 9, 2002 - the Salvadoran was in valid nonimmigrant status, had a pending application for change of status, adjustment of status or asylum, had voluntary departure authorization, or was the spouse or child of an alien currently eligible to register for TPS.

If you are applying for a late initial registration, you must register no later than 60 days after the expiration or termination of the immigration benefit that is legally harboring you in the country.

For example, if you applied for asylum and were denied, you have 60 days from the date your petition was denied to apply for TPS for the first time.

A late initial registration for TPS has certain complications. Therefore, it is necessary to consult with an immigration attorney before beginning the process.

TPS is not a pathway to permanent residency

TPS is a temporary program and does not lead to permanent residency. This could only change if the U.S. Congress amends the law.

When the program ends, people return to the same immigration status they had before TPS - that is, if they were not here legally, they will go back to being undocumented.

So please consult with an immigration attorney to evaluate your immigration situation as soon as possible and see if there is any other recourse to obtain permanent residency.

For more information and immigration tips, read my blog

Send your questions to Include detailed information about your situation to better answer your questions.

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).

The purpose of this column is to provide general information. There can be no guarantee or prediction as to what will be the outcome of the information presented by Dr. Nelson A. Castillo. The information should not be taken as legal advice for any individual, case or situation. Consult with an immigration attorney for personalized legal advice before beginning any immigration proceedings.