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What are asylum and temporary protected status?

On Behalf of | Feb 22, 2024 | Immigration And Naturalization

In U.S. immigration law, two critical mechanisms offer protection to individuals fleeing peril in their home countries: asylum and temporary protected status (TPS). Both provide a lifeline for those facing severe threats but differ fundamentally regarding eligibility and benefits.

Asylum is designed for individuals who fear persecution in their home country based on specific grounds. At the same time, TPS offers temporary relief to individuals from designated countries experiencing environmental disasters, ongoing armed conflict or extraordinary and temporary conditions.

Eligibility criteria

Asylum seekers must demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution due to race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion. The process demands thorough documentation and often involves a rigorous interview or court hearing.

TPS doesn’t require individuals to prove personal persecution. Instead, it is granted to nationals of certain countries predetermined by the U.S. government due to conditions that temporarily prevent safe return.

Duration and benefits

The benefits offered by asylum and TPS also vary. Once granted asylum, individuals can apply for permanent residency after one year, offering a path to long-term security and eventual citizenship. Asylum also allows for family reunification, enabling immediate family members to seek protection.

TPS is inherently temporary, with designations lasting from 6 to 18 months, subject to extension. While TPS holders are protected from deportation and can obtain work authorization, they can’t directly transition to permanent residency through TPS status alone.

Obtaining asylum or TPS can be a complex process, so applicants may need to seek assistance to achieve a favorable outcome. It’s critical that they learn their rights and responsibilities and seeking legal guidance is usually a great way to get started.