DHS Extends TPS Status and Documentation Validity for Several Countries
The Department of Homeland Security will continue to preserve Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designations for nationals of El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Sudan given that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has not yet issued an anticipated directive that would allow the federal government to move forward with the termination of TPS for these countries. According to a Federal Register notice to be published on December 9, 2020, TPS status and employment authorization documentation for beneficiaries from these countries, which had been set to expire on January 4, 2021, will be extended through October 4, 2021.
Automatic extension of employment authorization and other TPS-related documents
Under the Federal Register notice, TPS Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) for nationals of El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Sudan will be automatically extended through October 4, 2021, provided they meet certain registration and documentary requirements set forth in the Federal Register notice. A beneficiary from any of these countries who has applied for a new EAD under a prior extension, but who has not yet received the EAD, will be covered by the latest extension.
Similarly, Forms I-94 and I-797 will also be extended through October 4, 2021, provided that the TPS beneficiary properly filed for re-registration during either the most recent DHS-announced registration period for his or her country, or any applicable previous DHS-announced registration period of his or her country, or has a re-registration application that remains pending. A TPS beneficiary whose application has been withdrawn or denied is not eligible for automatic extensions.
Impact on status and work authorization
The notice also states the following regarding TPS-related documentation:
I-9 employment eligibility verification: TPS beneficiaries eligible for automatic EAD extensions may complete or update their I-9 employment eligibility records by providing an employer with a copy of the Federal Register notice, an eligible expiring or expired TPS EAD, and any other required I-9 documents. The Federal Register notice provides specific instructions on proper completion of an I-9 form to reflect an automatically extended TPS EAD.
New EADs: While it is not necessary for TPS beneficiaries from the six countries to obtain a new EAD in order to benefit from the automatic EAD extension, they may do so by filing a Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) with USCIS, along with the filing fee (or fee waiver request).
Pending TPS and/or EAD applications: If a pending application is approved, approval notices and document expiration dates will reflect the latest expiration date of October 4, 2021. There is no need for a foreign national to file either application again in order to benefit from the extension.
DHS may announce periodic re-registration periods in the future as litigation continues or as the Ninth Circuit issues directives.
On September 14, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Ramos v. Wolf ruled that the Department of Homeland Security may proceed with its long-planned termination of TPS designations for El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan, vacating a lower court decision that had blocked the terminations while litigation continues. That decision also affected the TPS designations for Nepal and Honduras, as required by court order in a separate California district court case.
To date, however, the Ninth Circuit has not yet issued a directive to implement its September 14 order. As such, DHS must continue to extend TPS status and work documentation for the affected countries pursuant to the lower court injunction.
Possible implementation of the September 14 Ninth Circuit decision
Should the Ninth Circuit issue a directive to implement its September 14 decision permitting TPS termination, TPS benefits would terminate according to specific timelines for each country, none less than 120 days from the date of the directive. The TPS designation for Haiti, though included in the Ramos case, is protected from termination under a separate injunction issued by a New York federal district court.
What’s next for TPS
DHS is expected to continue to pursue its TPS terminations for the above countries in the remaining days of the Trump Administration. However, President-elect Joseph Biden has said that he intends to conduct an immediate review of the TPS programs upon taking office with the goal of preventing TPS beneficiaries from being forced to return to countries that are unsafe.