More than 200,000 Salvadorans in the United States who are currently protected under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) may be eligible for re-registration to the program.
As the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has already announced TPS extension for El Salvador, I am taking this opportunity to remind you who is eligible, the costs and why it is important to re-register as soon as possible.
In this week's Consulta Migratoria® column I answer a reader's question about TPS and give more details about the program.
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 in August 2014 I arrived for the first time in the United States along with my 15 year old daughter. We entered illegally and were not detained by immigration. We came fleeing my husband's domestic violence and now we live in California.
A notary suggested that we register for TPS for Salvadorans. Is it possible? -Liliana T.
Liliana, Salvadorans who recently arrived in the United States for the first time are not eligible to enroll in the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program.
Salvadorans never before registered for TPS may be eligible for late registration if they meet certain requirements. One of them is to demonstrate that they have lived in the U.S. continuously since February 13, 2001 and have been physically present in the country since March 9, 2001.
Liliana, although you and your daughter cannot apply for TPS, you may be eligible for other immigration benefits. For example, certain people who have been victims of domestic violence can apply for asylum in the U.S. Also, certain minors can apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS).
Asylum and SIJS have application deadlines. Please consult with an immigration attorney or federally accredited representative to evaluate your immigration options as soon as possible. Notaries, immigration consultants, paper fillers and multi-service providers cannot give you legal advice.
TPS re-registration process for eligible Salvadorans
U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced extension of TPS for El Salvador.
It is estimated that there are approximately 204,000 Salvadorans currently protected under TPS who may be eligible for TPS re-registration.
The re-registration period for Salvadorans began on Wednesday, January 7, 2014 and will end on Monday, March 9, 2014. If you are currently in TPS, you must re-register during this period, otherwise you may lose your TPS.
The re-registration will allow them to legally remain in the U.S. for another 18 months from March 10, 2015 through September 9, 2016. In addition, the validity of work permits under TPS that expire on March 9, 2015 will be automatically extended until September 9, 2015.
Currently, the total cost is $$465. Of that amount, $85 is for fingerprinting and $380 is for the work permit.
Applying for a work permit is optional. However, you must always send both forms to re-register for TPS. If you need the permit at a later date, you can apply for it by sending the $$380 to be processed.
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 using the Form I-912.
If you need to renew your work permit, submit your renewal application immediately so that USCIS will issue you a new work permit before March 9, 2015, when the current permit expires.
To avoid problems with your employer, print a copy of the official TPS extension notice to show your employer that your work permit has been automatically extended. A copy of the official notice for El Salvador can be found here. here.
How criminal records affect
Individuals 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.
DACA and DAPA
Individuals in TPS are not eligible to enroll in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents (DAPA) programs.
These programs are only for certain undocumented individuals. Since people who are enrolled in TPS are authorized to live legally in the U.S., they do not qualify for DACA or DAPA.
There is still no sign of when immigration reform may be forthcoming. Therefore, it is important that everyone eligible for TPS re-register to maintain their legal status while we wait for a change in immigration laws that will provide a definitive path to permanent residency.
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.
Someday, the U.S. government will determine that it is no longer necessary and will cancel the program. When that happens, everyone with TPS will revert to the immigration status they had before, such as being undocumented. If you have no other legal option to stay in the U.S., 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 inmigracionhoy.com.
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.