Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status
Form I-821 Explained
What is Form I-821 used for?
Certain foreign nationals physically present in the United States may apply for or renew Temporary Protected Status (TPS) with Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security may designate a county for Temporary Protected Status due to conditions in the country that may make it dangerous for that country’s nationals to return. Examples include wars and natural disasters. You can find a complete list of TPS countries on the USCIS TPS page.
During the designated temporary period, TPS beneficiaries receive certain benefits:
Authorized Stay in the United StatesThe most significant benefit of Temporary Protected Status is the right to stay in the United States during the designated period for your TPS country. The length of your stay in the U.S. with Temporary Protected Status will vary depending on the nature of the emergency situation in your country and the length of time for which the Department of Homeland Security designates your native country is eligible for TPS protection. The initial period provided will be no less than six months and could be up to 18 months. If the situation in your home country is not improving, DHS has the option to extend this time. Consequently, some TPS beneficiaries have been able to live and work in the U.S. for more than ten years.
Employment AuthorizationPermission to work in the U.S. is another significant benefit of Temporary Protected Status. As a TPS beneficiary, you may request an Employment Authorization Document (also known as an EAD or work permit) that will allow you to work while in the United States during the designated period. You’ll need to file a separate application.
Travel Outside the United StatesYou can make temporary trips outside the United States provided you have travel authorization. The appropriate travel document will enable you to travel abroad and to return to the U.S. within the time period for which you are authorized. It's often authorized for multiple reentries, but you can remain outside the U.S. for only a total of 90 days. You’ll need to file a separate application for the travel document.
Eligibility to Apply Temporary Protected Status
Who qualifies for Form I-821?
Only certain individuals can meet the eligibility requirements for Temporary Protected Status. In general, you must be a national of a designated TPS country and be continuously physically present and continuously residing in the U.S. from specific dates set for each country.
You must meet all eligibility requirements for TPS before filing Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status. According to USCIS, to be eligible for TPS, you must:
- Be a national of a country designated for TPS, or a person without nationality who last habitually resided in the designated country;
- File during the open initial registration or re-registration period, or you meet the requirements for late initial filing during any extension of your country’s TPS designation;
- Have been continuously physically present (CPP) in the United States since the effective date of the most recent designation date of your country; and
- Have been continuously residing (CR) in the United States since the date specified for your country.
The law allows an exception to the continuous physical presence and continuous residence requirements for brief, casual and innocent departures from the United States. When you apply or re-register for TPS, you must inform USCIS of all absences from the United States since the CPP and CR dates. USCIS will determine whether the exception applies in your case.
You may NOT be eligible for TPS or to maintain your existing TPS if you:
- Have been convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States;
- Are found inadmissible as an immigrant under applicable grounds in INA section 212(a), including non-waivable criminal and security-related grounds;
- Are subject to any of the mandatory bars to asylum. These include, but are not limited to, participating in the persecution of another individual or engaging in or inciting terrorist activity;
- Fail to meet the continuous physical presence and continuous residence in the United States requirements;
- Fail to meet initial or late initial TPS registration requirements; or
- If granted TPS, you fail to re-register for TPS, as required, without good cause.
TPS Work Permit
Can I request employment authorization with Form I-821?
As a TPS beneficiary, you may work in the United States, but only after your request and receive an Employment Authorization Document (also known as an EAD or work permit). The EAD allows will allow you to work while in the United States during the designated period. You’ll need to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, to request this benefit. You may file at the same time as filing Form I-821 or at a later date.
Typically, the EAD is valid for a period that matches the dates of your TPS protections.
TPS Travel Authorization
Can I travel outside the U.S. after filing Form I-821?
You may travel outside the United States with Temporary Protected Status, but first you must obtain a special TPS travel document that is similar to Advance Parole. On July 1, 2022, USCIS stopped issuing Advance Parole to TPS beneficiaries and began issuing a new travel authorization document called Form I-512T, Authorization for Travel by a Noncitizen to the United States. Failure to obtain this travel authorization or return within the approved dates will likely result in the loss of TPS benefits.
To apply for TPS travel authorization, complete and file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, with USCIS. Upon approval, you will receive Authorization for Travel by a Noncitizen to the United States. The document will allow you to travel abroad and to return to the U.S. within the time period for which you are authorized. This permit is often authorized for multiple reentries, but you can remain outside the U.S. for only a total of 90 days.
Travel authorization allows you to board a transportation carrier and seek lawful entry into the United States at a U.S. Port-of-Entry (POE). It does not guarantee that you will be allowed into the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will perform all the required inspection procedures, including determining admissibility or ability to enter, upon your arrival at a POE. Individuals who have any criminal record or past time in an unlawful immigration status should seek the advice of an immigration attorney before departing the U.S.
Temporary Protected Status Application
What should I mail with Form I-821?
A complete Temporary Protected Application package should contain Form I-821, the USCIS, and all required supporting documents.
Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected StatusTo register or re-register for TPS, file Form I-821 online or mail the package to the direct file addresses on the country-specific USCIS TPS pages.
Form I-765, Application for Employment AuthorizationRequesting employment authorization is optional. If you do choose to request the work permit, you'll receive it more promptly if you file form I-765 as part of the TPS application. However, you may submit the application any time you have TPS.
USCIS FeeFind a chart of the fee structures on the USCIS website.
Passport-Style PhotosSubmit two identical passport-style color photographs of yourself taken within 30 days of filing the application. The photos should be consistent with DOS photo requirements.
Identity and Nationality EvidenceSubmit proof that you have nationality or habitual residence in a country which has a TPS designation. Provide a photocopy of at least one of the following documents:
- Passport showing your picture, name, and date of birth
- Birth certificate accompanied by photo identification
- A visa issued by a foreign consulate
- Any national identity document from your country of origin bearing your photo and/or fingerprint
Evidence of Initial Date of EntrySubmit evidence that proves your date of entry into the United States. Provide a photocopy of any of the following documents:
- I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
Continuous Residence EvidenceSubmit evidence that proves your continuous residence in the United States since the CR date required for your TPS country. It is most effective to provide one or more of the following documents for each month since that date:
- Employment records;
- Rent receipts, utility bills, receipts or letters from companies;
- School records from the schools that an applicant or their children have attended in the U.S.;
- Hospital or medical records concerning treatment or hospitalization of you or your children; or
- Attestations by church, union or other organization officials who know the applicant.
This is a summary of contents to file as part of the Form I-821 application. Please review the I-821 filing instructions for a thorough list of supporting documents based on your specific situation.
Form I-821 Processing Times
How long does it take to approve TPS?
The processing time for a TPS application ranges from 10 to 18 months for most applicants. Form I-821 processing times are affected by several factors such as designated country, initial or re-registration, and service center. During this time, USCIS will adjudicate the request for Temporary Protected Status (Form I-821) and then process the application for employment authorization (Form I-765). For a closer look at average processing times for your TPS country, see the USCIS processing times.