The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced an 18-month extension and redesignation of Afghanistan for Temporary Protected Status on September 21, 2023. Both the extension and the redesignation will run from November 21, 2023 through May 20, 2025.
Do you already have TPS? If you already have TPS and would like to extend your status through May 20, 2025, you must re-register during the 60-day registration period, which begins September 25, 2023 and ends November 21, 2023.
Don’t have TPS? You might qualify for it now. Afghan nationals (and individuals having no nationality who last habitually resided in Afghanistan) who have continuously resided in the United States since September 20, 2023 and have been continuously physically present in the United States since November 21, 2023, may file an application to obtain TPS. New applicants can apply from September 25, 2023 through the end of the TPS period, ending April 19, 2025.
Frequently Asked Questions: Temporary Protected Status for Afghans
Q: What is Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?
A: TPS is a temporary immigration status provided to nationals of certain countries experiencing war, natural disaster, or other conditions that make it difficult or unsafe to return to those countries. TPS allows you to temporarily live and work legally in the U.S. TPS does not lead to permanent immigration status or a “green card.” Afghan Humanitarian Parolees and TPS holders who wish to seek permanent resident status in the U.S. must qualify through other pathways.
Q: Who is eligible to apply for TPS?
A: If you are an Afghan national (or if you have no nationality and last habitually resided in Afghanistan) and are in the U.S. now without permanent immigration status here, you may be able to apply for TPS. This would allow you to live and work legally in the U.S. for as long as Afghanistan is designated a TPS country. People with permanent status, such as lawful permanent residents, asylees o refugees, are not eligible for TPS.
Q: What are the eligibility criteria or requirements to apply for TPS?
A: To be eligible for TPS, Afghan nationals must have been residing in the U.S. on (or before) September 20, 2023. That means the U.S. is the main country where you lived and worked on September 20, 2023. In addition, applicants must have been continuously physically present in the U.S. since November 21, 2023. Continuous physical presence means you remained inside the U.S. without leaving. There are exceptions to the residence and physical presence requirements for very brief legally sanctioned trips outside the U.S.
Individuals applying for TPS must have no serious criminal record. If you have been convicted of a felony or two or more misdemeanors in the U.S., you may be ineligible for TPS benefits or renewal. Individuals are also ineligible for TPS if they have participated in the persecution of another individual or if they have engaged in or supported terrorist activity. If you have concerns about your eligibility, speak to a legal service provider.
Q: I came through Operation Allies Welcome (OAW) program and have humanitarian parolee status. TPS sounds very similar to the protections parolees already receive. Why should I apply for TPS? If I am approved for TPS, what happens to my parole status?
A: Afghans with humanitarian parole under the Operation Allies Welcome (OAW) program retain their parole even if they are granted TPS, so there should be no concern about losing parolee benefits. If TPS is extended for an additional 18 months, only those who already have TPS will be eligible for the extension. The parole period for those who came through OAW is only 2 years, meaning that for some, it may expire before the current TPS extension or re-designation. It is not currently clear whether USCIS will grant re-parole to those whose parole period expires, so applying for TPS is one way to ensure that you can remain in the US legally and not experience a gap in your work authorization.
Q: When is a good time to apply for TPS?
A: If you currently have TPS and wish to extend your temporary protected status, you must re-register during the 60-day re-registration period from September 25, 2023 through November 24, 2023 to ensure you keep your TPS and employment authorization without a gap.
If you are applying for TPS for the first time, the registration period is from September 25, 2023 through May 20, 2025. Afghan humanitarian parolees who wish to register for TPS should plan to do so at least 6 months before their parole is set to expire to avoid a gap in their employment authorization and lawful presence in the U.S.
Q: What is the TPS application process?
A: Those interested in applying for TPS are strongly encouraged to speak with a qualified legal service provider to ensure that they meet the eligibility requirements and that there are no legal concerns before submitting their application. It is important to know that each individual must have their own TPS application, including spouses and children. The application for TPS is made on Form I-821, which must be filed with the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), together with supporting documents to prove your eligibility, and applicable fees or a completed Form I-912 request for fee waiver. If a TPS applicant wants permission to work or wants to have a document for identity purposes (children, for example), they must also file Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization. For more details, applicants should consult the USCIS website.
Q: What documents are needed to complete the TPS application?
A: In order to apply for TPS for the first time, you will need to prove three things:
(1) That you are an Afghan national
(2) That you have been continuously residing in the U.S. since September 20, 2023, and
(3) That you have been continuously physically present in the U.S. since November 21, 2023
In submitting documents in support of your application, you should only submit copies of original documents. Do not submit original documents.
(1) For proof of Afghan Nationality, an applicant could provide a passport, birth certificate with photo identification, OR a national identity document from Afghanistan with a photo and/or fingerprint.
(2) To prove date of entry, an applicant can use a passport entry stamp, I-94 or other documents that prove you entered the US on or before September 20, 2023.
(3) To prove your residence in U.S. on or before September 20, 2023, and physical presence since November 21, 2023, you can use a variety of documents. This could include employment records like pay stubs or W-2 forms, bank statements, rent or utility receipts, school records, hospital records, or attestations by resettlement agencies concerning your residence. To learn more about which documents to include, speak to a legal service provider or review the USCIS website.
If you already have TPS and are applying for extension of TPS, you do not need to submit any documentation submitted previously.
Q: I have TPS that is going to expire on November 20, 2023. Do I need to re-register?
A: Yes. Current beneficiaries who wish to extend their temporary protected status must re-register during the 60-day re-registration period from September 25, 2023 through November 24, 2023 to ensure they keep their TPS and employment authorization without a gap. (Note: It is important for re-registrants to timely re-register during the registration period and not to wait until their Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) expire, as delaying reregistration could result in gaps in their employment authorization documentation.)
Q: I have already applied for TPS but my application is still pending/under review. What should I do?
A: USCIS will continue to process pending applications filed under previous TPS designations for Afghanistan. Individuals with a pending Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status, or a related Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, do not need to file either application again. If USCIS approves a pending Form I-821 or Form I-765 filed under the previous designation of TPS for Ukraine, USCIS will grant the individual TPS through April 19, 2025, and issue an EAD valid through the same date.
Q: A lot of immigration information can feel overwhelming and very detailed. Where can I get legal advice?
A: Some resettlement agencies may have in-house immigration services; while other resettlement agencies may have community connections or resources they can share. For those who are connected with a resettlement agency, you can check with them first. Outside of the resettlement agency, there is an option to find a legal service provider through this online directory of Legal Service Providers. You will need to insert your zip code to see a list of providers in your area.
It is important to understand that with the arrival of so many parolees, there is a tremendous demand for legal services. Many legal service providers – especially those that charge low or no fees for their services - have long wait times for appointments or are temporarily not taking new clients. It is important to be patient and to check back with service providers for their availability every few weeks.