Ask an Immigration Lawyer: When Should Salvadoran TPS Holders Reapply for Protection?

Art by Alan López for Remezcla

It’s a frightening time for immigrants. Although previous presidents have deported immigrants in large numbers, many – especially those without criminal records – felt a relative sense of normalcy. But with an administration that is outwardly hostile toward immigrant populations, any comfort previously felt is gone. As Donald Trump attempts to tighten immigration laws and cut down on even legal forms of migration into the United States, it can be difficult to keep up with the changing landscape.

That’s why we have launched the Ask an Immigration Lawyer column. Twice a month, Nubia Willman – a Chicago-based immigration attorney with nearly decade of experience – answers your questions about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and more. This column is not meant to be construed as legal advice. You should not act upon any information provided without seeking the advice of an attorney licensed to practice law in your state. 

Submit a question here and check out previous columns here.

Dear Nubia: My best friend is a 65-year-old abuela who sells mangos in front of my job. Her Salvadoran TPS expires this September; is it too early to renew? If so, when should she/can she?

Para la Colocha

Dear Friend: First, how cool to have a BFF that sells mangos by your job! It’s incredibly kind of you to seek out information for her. Before I answer your question, I want to break down TPS for everyone else.

TPS, also known as Temporary Protected Status, is exactly what it sounds like – it’s a remedy that the government issues for immigrants living in the US who are in need of temporary protection. TPS has existed for decades, originally created in 1990 to help stabilize immigrants who happened to be in the US when some type of environmental or political disaster struck their home country. TPS has allowed immigrants from Central America, Haiti, Rwanda, Yemen, and many other countries to work lawfully and stay out of immigration enforcement’s radar. The benefits of TPS are numerous, for both the recipient, their family, and the community overall. With TPS you now have an individual who is able to work without issue, can obtain a valid social security number, apply for a driver’s license, pay more taxes, and continue to contribute to our neighborhoods – like those delicious prepared mangos you get to enjoy!

Unfortunately, TPS is just that – temporary. It’s extended for a set amount of time and each presidential administration decides whether or not to extend TPS for each designated country. Last year, the current administration announced that TPS for Salvadorans would not be extended. That decision meant that thousands of people living and working in our communities would suddenly find themselves pushed back into the shadows and once again face the risk of being removed from the US.

In response to this decision, various groups sued the Department of Homeland Security. Through this case, Ramos v. Nielsen, the court issued an injunction, which is a legal remedy that put this decision on hold, while the rest of the case is litigated. As long as the injunction is in effect, USCIS must continue to accept TPS applications for Salvadorans.

Back to your friend, her TPS expires in September. It’s generally good practice to file within 90 to 120 days before expiration. But the reality is that the injunction could end at any moment, leaving your friend without the ability to re-register. Faced with that possibility, most attorneys are encouraging people who need to re-register for TPS to do so now, even if the expiration date is months away. Your friend should consider doing the same. In addition, I would also encourage her to seek out an immigration attorney to review her immigration history as a whole. It’s very possible that she may also be eligible for other long-term remedies that could put her on a more stable path.

Mucha Suerte!


Disclaimer: The information on this column is not legal advice. Legal information is not the same as legal advice, which is the application of law to an individual’s specific circumstances. The information provided in this column is not a substitute for and does not replace the advice or representation of a licensed attorney. Although Remezcla goes to great lengths to make sure the information on the column is accurate and up to date, we make no claim as to the accuracy of this information and are not responsible for any consequences that may result from the use of this column.

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