Immigrants facing time-limits to work and live in the United States under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program may have a path to citizenship under a proposal by President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress.
Nearly 400,000 immigrants have TPS, which protects them from deportation. The affected individuals, many living in California, fled 10 countries due to war, natural disasters or other extraordinary conditions that endangered their lives.
TPS benefits set to expire for immigrants
Under the program, federal authorities can grant TPS status to immigrants for up to 18 months, and can extend that protection if the danger in their home country persists. Most TPS recipients have lived in the U.S. for at least two decades. Current extensions granted by the Department of Homeland Security expire on:
- September 2021: Somalia, Yemen
- October 2021: El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, Sudan, Nepal, Nicaragua
- 2022: Syria, South Sudan
The deadlines for most groups were extended by the Trump administration, while the Biden administration extended the period for Syrian immigrants. The government must announce 60 days in advance that TPS protections will expire or they are automatically extended. Trump sought to end the program entirely but was blocked by a series of lawsuits.
Biden asks Congress to pass legislation
By itself, TPS does not make immigrants eligible for citizenship. However, after taking office on Jan. 20, Biden asked Congress to approve a bill allowing TPS recipients to immediately apply for green cards as the next step to become permanent residents.
The proposal would allow immigrants to apply for citizenship three years after they receive a green card. That’s two years earlier than normal as long as applicants meet all naturalization conditions, such as knowledge of English and U.S. civics. They would also have to pass additional background checks.