Sometimes, immigrants want to come to the United States because they aren’t safe in their home country. This may make it impossible for them to wait for the lengthy immigration process to complete.
Fortunately, there are two options they might qualify for – temporary protected status and asylum. These represent two important protections available to individuals who are unable or unwilling to return to their home countries due to certain conditions or circumstances.
Understanding the temporary protected status
TPS is a temporary immigration status provided to nationals of certain countries experiencing conditions such as ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters or other extraordinary circumstances that temporarily prevent safe return. The Department of Homeland Security designates which countries qualify for TPS.
Individuals from these countries who are already in the United States may apply for TPS, which allows them to stay in the U.S. legally for a set period. They can’t be deported, can obtain work authorization and may be granted travel permission. However, TPS does not provide a direct path to permanent resident status or citizenship.
Asylum is protection granted to foreign nationals already in the U.S. or arriving at the border who meet the international law definition of a “refugee.” A refugee is defined as a person who is unable or unwilling to return to their home country because of a well-founded fear of persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.
Those granted asylum may apply for a Social Security card, request permission to work and apply for a green card one year after being granted asylum. Unlike TPS, asylum offers a path to permanent residency and ultimately citizenship.
Navigating through these programs can be challenging. Enlisting the help of someone familiar with these matters is beneficial.