DHS Nixes TPS for Nicaragua, Delays TPS Extension Decision for Honduras

Temporary Protected Status

The Department of Homeland Security announced in November, 2017, that it will terminate its Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for certain qualifying citizens of Nicaragua present in the United States. Elaine Duke, the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, said that the effective date of the termination will be January 5, 2019, delayed by 12 months to allow for an orderly transition. At the same time, Duke also announced that no determination will be made regarding a TPS extension for Honduras, so the TPS designation for Honduras will be automatically extended to July 5, 2018.

When a country is under a TPS designation, eligible nationals from the designated country who are in the United States before a certain date can remain here for an 18 month period and obtain work authorization. DHS bases its designation of TPS for an affected country based on making a finding that an eligible designated country nationals are unable to safely return home due to extraordinary and temporary conditions such as an environmental disaster or ongoing armed conflict. There is no direct path from TPS permanent resident status absent legislation to grant that benefit.

The TPS designations for Nicaragua and Honduras have been in place since 1999, based on the devastation caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. DHS based its decision to end TPS for Nicaragua after examining whether Nicaragua is now able to adequately handle the return of its nationals, and the absence of a Nicaraguan governmental request to extend TPS status for its eligible nationals. Regarding Honduras, Duke said that DHS needed more time to obtain and review additional information about conditions in that country before making an appropriate determination of TPS eligibility.

Acting Secretary Duke noted the difficulty faced by foreign nationals who have been under a TPS designation for nearly two decades, and called on Congress to enact a permanent solution. Duke urged Congress to allow Hondurans and Nicaraguans with TPS to continue to legally work in the United States until the end of the TPS designation periods. Hondurans and Nicaraguans with TPS will have to re-apply for Employment Authorization Documents.