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Temporary Protected Status

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a form of relief the U.S. government can provide to immigrants that allows them to remain in the U.S. legally, with work authorization, for a temporary period of time.

Congress established TPS in the 1990 Immigration Act as a way for the government to provide relief to people from countries facing ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster or other extraordinary and temporary conditions that would prevent foreign nationals from returning safely. 

The U.S. attorney general originally held the power to grant the status, but it was passed to the Secretary of Homeland Security after the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in 2002.

The government can provide TPS to a group of people for anywhere from six to 18 months. This period can be extended if circumstances in their home country seemingly haven’t changed; some TPS holders have lived in the U.S. for decades. The status does not lead to permanent resident status.

According to a 2020 report from the Congressional Research Service, there are 411,000 people on TPS from 10 different countries. The Trump administration sought to terminate TPS programs for immigrants from several countries including El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras and Sudan. A September 2020 court ruling let the administration’s efforts continue.