Does TPS grant permanent residency?

In my column Migratory Consultation® this week I am answering a reader's question. 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 and I would like to know how many TPS permits you have to have to apply for permanent residency. I have been living in the U.S. for more than 10 years under TPS, what steps do I have to take to apply for permanent residency? - Marlon C.

Marlon, the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program does not lead to permanent residency. TPS is a temporary program granted to countries that are experiencing a temporary crisis. Currently, several countries enjoy TPS protection, including El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.

In the case of El Salvador, the country has enjoyed TPS protection since 2001. Since then, the United States has extended the TPS designation for Salvadorans several times. Currently, the period of legal stay for Salvadorans who timely re-registered for TPS expires on March 9, 2015. It is estimated that there are approximately 212,000 Salvadorans currently protected under TPS.

TPS registrants may remain in the United States and obtain employment authorization during the period of designation of their home country.

However, TPS does not lead to permanent residence in the United States.. At the end of the TPS designation period, beneficiaries return to the same immigration status they had before TPS (unless that status has expired or been revoked), or to any other status they may have acquired during TPS registration.

It is important to note that although there is much talk of immigration reform in the future, there is still no certainty. Even if a reform were to be approved, it is not known how long it would take for a law to go into effect. Therefore, all Salvadorans with TPS should re-register in time so as not to lose their legal status while we wait for a change in the immigration laws that will offer a definitive path to permanent residency.

It is of the utmost importance that any person who is registered for TPS consult with an immigration attorney as soon as possible to evaluate his or her options for obtaining permanent residency in the United States.

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).