How can TPS holders obtain permanent residency?

In my Consulta Migratoria® column this week, I answer a question from a reader who is enrolled in the latest extension of TPS.

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 Honduran and I am registered for TPS. I am afraid that I will be deported when my TPS expires in 2020. How can I obtain residency in the United States? Enrique P.

Enrique, it is good that you have completed the process to enter the last re-registration of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program for Honduras. This will allow you to continue living and working legally in the United States until January 5, 2020.

All Hondurans with TPS who have not yet re-registered for the program must do so by Monday, August 6, 2018. Click here to learn how to re-register for TPS for the last time.

The federal government cancelled TPS for several countries, including Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua, which will affect more than 250,000 people, who will have to find other ways to remain legally in the country.

Legal options to obtain permanent residency

Enrique, you do not give me enough information to answer your question. But below, I will explain some possible legal options for you to obtain permanent residency.

1. Family requests - You may be able to obtain permanent residency through a family member who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

A U.S. citizen may petition for his or her parents, spouse, children and siblings. A citizen's parents, children, and siblings may be single or married.

A permanent resident may petition for his or her spouse and unmarried children of any age.

2. Labor requests - This is a legal path with a series of conditions and requirements not only for you, but also for the employer. There are five categories of preference to obtain permanent residence through work.

One of these categories is the third preference for skilled workers, professionals and unskilled workers. Depending on your work and educational experience, you may be able to apply for one of these immigrant visas.

3. Humanitarian programs - There are several humanitarian programs that may help you, including the U nonimmigrant status (commonly known as the U visa) for victims of certain crimes; the T visa for victims of human trafficking; the Violence Against Women Act which protects women and men who have been battered by spouses, parents or children who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents; and asylum and relief from deportation.

4. Cancellation of removal and adjustment of status for non-permanent residents

If the federal government places you in removal proceedings upon termination of your TPS, you may be able to apply for cancellation of removal in immigration court.

These kinds of cases are very difficult to win because you have to prove that:

  • you have been physically present in the United States continuously for a minimum of 10 years immediately before you were placed in removal proceedings and up to the time of filing the application
  • you have been a person of good moral character for the 10 years preceding a final administrative order
  • you have not been convicted of certain crimes
  • removal would result in "exceptional and extremely unusual hardship" to your spouse, parent or unmarried child under the age of 21, who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States
  • you merit the discretion of the immigration judge to grant you the benefit.

Processing times

Some of these legal options are quick and others take many years to accomplish. And you should keep in mind that the law could change in the future and remove or add immigration benefits.

Therefore, it is of utmost importance that you start your residency application as soon as possible if you are eligible.

Importance of good legal representation

Enrique, each case is unique. An option that is valid for a friend or family member may not be valid for you, so it is very important that you seek the advice of a licensed and experienced immigration attorney to help you with your immigration proceedings.

To you, as well as to all my readers, I always warn you to be careful not to fall victims of fraud or bad legal advice. To avoid this, please do not go to notaries, immigration consultants, paper fillers or multi-services because these people are not authorized to give you legal advice.