The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has the authority to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to eligible foreign-born individuals who are unable to return home for certain safety-related reasons. TPS may be designated to a foreign country when there are circumstances in the country preventing it from adequately handling the return of its nationals. Reasons include ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, and other extraordinary and temporary conditions. During a designated period, individuals who are eligible for TPS may apply for temporary employment and travel authorization. Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke recently announced several decisions regarding TPS for the following countries:
- Haiti: On November 20, 2017, Acting Secretary Duke announced the termination of TPS designation for Haiti, with a delayed effective date of July 22, 2019.
- Nicaragua: On November 6, 2017, Acting Secretary Duke announced termination of TPS designation for Nicaragua, with a delayed effective date of January 5, 2019.
- Honduras: Also on November 6, 2017, Acting Secretary Duke announced an automatic extension of TPS for Honduras until July 5, 2018, indicating that additional information was required before a final decision on TPS designation for Honduras could be made.
Once TPS designation is terminated, beneficiaries of TPS must change to another immigration status they may eligible for, or leave the United States. Countries currently designated for TPS include El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
Employers should take note of termination dates for Haiti and Nicaragua, and keep abreast of new developments as they pertain to Honduras. It is important that employers be aware of which employees work pursuant to TPS so that they may take necessary action once designation is officially terminated in order to remain in compliance with immigration laws and regulations. In particular, employers should be sure to obtain confirmation of continued work authorization for any TPS beneficiaries whose work authorization is expiring, in order to be I-9 compliant.