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DHS terminates TPS designation for El Salvador

On January 8, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it will terminate the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for El Salvador on September 9, 2019. As a result, individuals from El Salvador who currently have TPS will lose this discretionary form of immigration status on September 9, 2019.

What does this mean for current TPS beneficiaries from El Salvador?
Salvadoran nationals who already have TPS will be required to re-register for TPS and apply for new Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Those who re-register and renew their EADs will be able to maintain lawful status and legally work in the United States until the termination of El Salvador’s TPS designation becomes effective on September 9, 2019. The window to re-register will only be open for a limited amount of time. USCIS will announce the registration deadlines in the next few weeks. Eligible applicants should check the USCIS Website for TPS El Salvador for updates on the registration period.

The announcement does not prevent Salvadorans currently with TPS from seeking other forms of immigration protection for which they are eligible. Current TPS beneficiaries from El Salvador are strongly encouraged to explore their immigration options and learn if they are eligible for lawful status independent of TPS, well in advance of September 9, 2019. After that date, Salvadoran nationals currently holding TPS will be considered unlawfully present in the U.S. unless they qualify for lawful status under a different immigration category.

Can a TPS beneficiary continue to work while the TPS/EAD renewal application is pending?
Typically, DHS institutes an automatic 180-day EAD extension for TPS beneficiaries who file a timely application to re-register TPS and renew their EAD. Therefore, unless otherwise indicated by DHS for a particular country, TPS re-registrants may continue to work while those applications are pending, for up to 180 days from the date of their current EAD expiration.

What is Temporary Protected Status?
Temporary Protected Status is a designation that the Secretary of Homeland Security may assign to a specific country, or certain parts of a country, when conditions prevent its nationals from returning safely to their home country. For example, the DHS Secretary may designate a country for TPS due to ongoing armed conflict such as civil war, a natural disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane, or other temporary emergencies.

Who can get TPS?
In order to qualify for TPS, you must:

  1. be a national of a country currently designated as a TPS country;
  2. file  for TPS during the proper registration window for your country;
  3. have been physically present in the United States since the relevant date specified by DHS for your country; and
  4. have been continuously residing in the U.S. since the date specified by DHS for your country.

Currently, TPS is designated for ten countries. The Trump administration has already announced that it will terminate TPS for four of them: El Salvador (ending September 9, 2019), Haiti (ending July 22, 2019), Nicaragua (ending January 5, 2019), and Sudan (ending November 2, 2018). The administration is still considering whether to renew TPS for the remaining six countries, which are Honduras, Nepal, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. USCIS maintains a table with the relevant registration status for each country at

Not all nationals of the designated countries are eligible for TPS. Those not eligible to receive TPS benefits include individuals convicted of certain non-waivable crimes, individuals found inadmissible, and individuals who fail to register or re-register by the DHS-mandated deadlines, subject to exceptions.

What protections does TPS provide?
Individuals who qualify for TPS can receive authorization to work in the U.S., are not removable from the United States, and may be granted travel authorization. Moreover, a TPS beneficiary cannot be detained by DHS on the basis of his or her immigration status in the U.S. These protections only apply during the time period designated by the DHS Secretary.

TPS does not, on its own, provide a path to lawful permanent resident status, nor does it give any other immigration status.  However, a TPS beneficiary may still apply for another immigration benefit, or seek to adjust status based on an immigrant petition, assuming he or she can prove independent grounds for eligibility.

Why did DHS remove El Salvador from the list of TPS-eligible countries?
El Salvador was first designated eligible for TPS in 2001, in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake that affected thousands of individuals in the country. Designating El Salvador as a TPS country allowed eligible Salvadorans who were unable to safely return to their homes and who were already in the U.S. a means to lawfully remain in the U.S. until it was safe for them to return home. The DHS announcement states that it is terminating TPS for El Salvador because the original disaster-related conditions caused by the earthquake no longer exist. The DHS announcement does not specify whether DHS considered the overall country conditions in El Salvador in reaching its decision.

We will continue to monitor the registration deadlines for nationals of El Salvador, as well as which countries are designated for TPS. In the meantime, if you have any questions regarding TPS or any other immigration benefits, do not hesitate to contact Raluca (Luca) Vais-Ottosen at (608) 252-9291 or, Kai Hovden at (608) 252-5391 or, or your DeWitt Ross & Stevens attorney.

About the Authors
Kai Hovden

Kai has experience in a diverse array of legal matters including labor and employment litigation, contract disputes, administrative proceedings, immigration representation, and trademark issues among others. He is a member of DeWitt's Immigration, Labor & Employment Relations, and Litigation Practice Groups.

Contact Kai by email or phone, (608) 252-5391.

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Raluca has assisted numerous clients with immigration matters ranging from family-based and individual immigration applications, to employment related visas and I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification issues. In addition to her immigration practice, she also has an extensive background in Employment Law. She assists companies in a number of areas, including but not limited to claims of workplace discrimination, harassment and retaliation, termination and constructive discharge, workplace investigations by state and federal agencies, as well as employment litigation.

Contact Luca by email or by phone at (608) 252-9291.


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