It is well-understood that if someone faces persecution in their home country – or that they have legitimate grounds upon which to fear persecution – due to their political opinions, race, religion, nationality or membership within a particular kind of social group, they can apply for asylum in the United States.
The protections afforded by Temporary Protected Status (TPS) are not as widely known or understood. TPS is a U.S. immigration program that applies specifically to nationals of certain countries that have been designated as unsafe by the American government.
What are the current TPS countries?
As of mid-February 2023, the following nations have been designated as unsafe – for the purposes of TPS – by the U.S. government:
- Burma (Myanmar)
- El Salvador
- South Sudan
Notice that some countries, like Ukraine, are unsafe due to war, whereas others, like Nepal, were first designated as TPS-eligible nations following a major humanitarian disaster (in re: Nepal, it was a devastating earthquake in 2015).
Considering your options
If you are unsafe in your home country, you may be able to apply for asylum or TPS protection. The best path forward for you will depend upon where you are from, why you are unsafe and whether you are eligible for one or both immigration options.
Researching your immigration options while you’re fleeing an unsafe situation can be a big challenge, especially if English is not your first language and you don’t know anyone in the U.S. who can help you. However, there are resources available for people who are fleeing unsafe situations. Understanding your options can mean the difference between coming to the U.S. (or staying, if you are already here) and being sent back home.