What to do for TPS re-registration for Hondurans and Nicaraguans

This week in my column "Consulta Migratoria" published online by several impreMedia publications including LaOpinión.com, explained the process Hondurans and Nicaraguans must follow to re-register for TPS. Here is the column:

Last week the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced the extension of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program for Honduras and Nicaragua.

Persons from these countries who are already registered will be able to remain legally in the United States for another 18 months from July 6, 2013 through January 5, 2015. In addition, the validity of work permits under TPS that expire on July 5, 2013 will be automatically extended until January 5, 2014.

The re-registration period began on April 3 and ends on June 3, 2013. If you do not register during the re-registration period, you may lose your TPS.

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.

To re-register, Hondurans and Nicaraguans must submit Forms I-821 and I-765 and send the appropriate fees to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If you do not have enough money to file because you are unemployed, earn less than the poverty level, or receive public benefits such as Medi-Cal or food stamps, you may be eligible to apply for a fee waiver.

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.

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.

Hondurans and Nicaraguans never before registered for TPS may be eligible for late 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.