Since 1990, foreign nationals needing relief because conditions in their countries prevented safe return have been able to seek a Temporary Protected Status designation by the Department of Homeland Security or its predecessor. Qualifying conditions include natural disasters, civil war, and other extraordinary and temporary conditions.
Those granted TPS are allowed to remain in the country for the authorized period and are eligible to obtain employment and travel authorization and, where qualified, to seek other temporary status or permanent resident status. Since early November 2017, the DHS has decided that TPS relief is no longer appropriate for approximately 270,000 nationals of El Salvador, Haiti, and Nicaragua. Accordingly, these nationals will be required to leave the United States, after a transition period, on the dates specified below. Approximately 57,000 Hondurans are currently protected by TPS, but the DHS may withdraw TPS relief for them as well. With respect to Honduras, the DHS has provided a temporary extension and is still considering a final decision.
These decisions obviously have a direct and substantial impact on the affected individuals, many of whom have been in the United States for several years, but also on U.S. employers who undoubtedly employ many of these individuals.
The TPS termination dates are as follows:
El Salvador September 9, 2019
Haiti July 22, 2019
Nicaragua January 5, 2019
The extension that applies while the DHS decides what to do about Honduran nationals will expire July 5, 2018.
In a press release issued yesterday by DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary Nielsen stated the Trump Administration's position that the terminated TPS designations were required by law and that "[o]nly Congress can legislate a permanent solution addressing the lack of an enduring lawful immigration status of those currently protected by TPS who have lived and worked in the United States for many years. The 18-month delayed termination will allow Congress time to craft a potential legislative solution."
This same reasoning should apply as well to the other countries where TPS has been terminated and, as with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the Trump Administration has left to Congress what to do about termination of these TPS designations.
The DHS has provided some guidance on the TPS re-registration process as follows:
For El Salvadorans, the DHS has said that further details about the termination of TPS status, including the re-registration period, will appear in a notice to be published in the Federal Register. Salvadoran TPS beneficiaries should not submit re-registration applications until the re-registration period is announced through the Federal Register notice.
For Haitians, the DHS has said that further information about re-registration will appear in the Federal Register.
For Hondurans and Nicaraguans, the re-registration period is currently in effect and ends next month, on February 13. For Hondurans, employment authorization is generally extended automatically until July 4, 2018. For Nicaraguans, employment authorization is automatically extended until March 6, 2018, and until July 4 for TPS beneficiaries who timely re-register and file a new application for employment authorization.