The U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security announced last week that he will extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to eligible nationals of Nicaragua and Honduras for an additional 18 months. The extension is effective from January 6, 2015 through July 5, 2016.

In general terms, the TPS designation may be extended to a foreign country by the Secretary of Homeland Security due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or, in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately. TPS is meant to be a temporary benefit that does not automatically lead to lawful permanent resident status. However, beneficiaries can still apply for non-immigrant status or for an adjustment of status. Other countries currently under the TPS designation include El Salvador, Haiti, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Syria.

Current TPS Nicaragua and Honduras beneficiaries seeking to extend their TPS must re-register during the 60-day re-registration period that runs from Oct. 16, 2014 through Dec. 15, 2014. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) encourages beneficiaries to re-register as soon as possible once the 60-day re-registration period begins. USCIS will not accept applications before Oct. 16, 2014.

To re-register, current TPS beneficiaries need to submit Form I-821 (Application for Temporary Protected Status). Re-registrants are exempted from payment of the application fee, but not the biometric services fee (applicable to individuals aged 14 and over).

This 18-month extension will also permit TPS re-registrants to apply for a new Employment Authorization Document (“EAD”), having a maximum expiration date of July 5, 2016. Those re-registrants desiring to extend their employment authorization will need to submit a Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) along with the fee or a fee-waiver request (Form I-912).

This move represents a realization of the President’s administration’s assertion that it would effectuate needed changes to our immigration schemes through executive action in light of our currently sedentary Congress.

Additional information on TPS for Nicaragua and Honduras —including guidance on eligibility, the application process and where to file—is available online at http://www.uscis.gov/tps. Further details about this extension of Nicaragua and Honduras for TPS, including the application requirements and procedures, will appear in a Federal Register.

Applicants seeking information about the status of their individual cases can check My Case Status Online, or call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833).