Why can't they sign up for DAPA or DACA if they have TPS?

In my column This week's Consulta Migratoria® answers 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 Honduran and I am registered for TPS. I have lived in the United States since 1995 and I have two citizen children. The notary who fills out my papers recommended that I register for the new Obama law and stop re-registering for TPS. Should I follow the notary's advice? -Leonel S.

Leonel, the advice the notario gave you is incorrect. People who are in the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program are not eligible to enroll in the Deferred Action for Parents (DAPA) program recently announced by President Obama.

Deferred action programs authorized by the President, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), are only valid for undocumented immigrants. If a person is in the country legally, even if in temporary status, he or she is not eligible.

You should re-register for TPS as soon as possible. The last day to re-register is Monday, December 15, 2014. If you fail to do so, you will lose the ability to live and work legally in the United States.

Also, stop using the services of a notary. Only a licensed attorney or federally accredited representative can give you legal advice.

TPS re-registration process for eligible Hondurans and Nicaraguans

It is estimated that approximately 61,000 Hondurans and 2,800 Nicaraguans, currently protected by the program, could be eligible for re-registration to TPS.

The deadline for Hondurans and Nicaraguans to re-register for TPS is December 15, 2014. Failure to re-register during this period may result in the loss of TPS.

Re-registration will allow them to legally remain in the U.S. for another 18 months from January 6, 2015 through July 5, 2016. In addition, the validity of work permits obtained under TPS that expire on January 5, 2015 will be automatically extended until July 5, 2015.

To re-register, Hondurans and Nicaraguans must submit to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) the Forms I-821 e I-765 and send the corresponding fees.

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 an exemption from paymentor 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 January 5, 2015, when the current permit expires.

To avoid problems with your employer, print a copy of the official TPS extension notice. This notice proves that your work permit was automatically extended. A copy of the official notice for Honduras can be found at here and for Nicaragua here.

The law stipulates that people who have been found guilty of two misdemeanors or one felony are not eligible for TPS. This includes people who are already under TPS, but want to re-register. Having been previously approved for TPS does not guarantee re-registration if they committed these types of crimes.

Examples of misdemeanors are drunk driving and committing acts of domestic violence. Consult with an immigration attorney before submitting your re-registration if you were arrested or found guilty of any crime, including driving without a license.

Although there is a lot of talk about immigration reform, it is not known when it might happen. Therefore, it is important that all TPS beneficiaries re-register so as not to lose their legal status while we wait for the U.S. Congress to finally authorize a change in immigration laws that will provide a definitive path to permanent residency.

Remember that TPS does not lead to permanent residency in the U.S. When the program ends one day, you will return to the immigration status you 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 preguntas@consultamigratoria.com. 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.