Legal Alerts

Legal Alert: DHS Terminates TPS Designation for Nicaragua


On November 6, 2017, Acting Security of Homeland Security Elaine Duke announced that she would not renew temporary protected status (TPS) for Nicaragua, giving protected Nicaraguans until January 5, 2019 to either leave the United States or find another way to remain lawfully in the country. Secretary Duke did, however, extend Honduran TPS by six months, until July 2018, in order to collect more information before making an official determination on renewal. 

TPS is a form of humanitarian relief that was established by the Immigration Act of 1990. Under the Act, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security designates a country for TPS when there is ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster or extraordinary conditions in a foreign state that prevent migrants from returning. The following countries are currently designated for TPS: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Nepal and Yemen.

The TPS benefit is issued for 6 to 18 month periods and can be subsequently renewed if country conditions do not change. Eligible individuals may obtain work permits, but otherwise do not have a path to legal status in the United States. 

Nicaragua was designated for TPS after Hurricane Mitch in 1998, and has been consistently renewed since that time. There are currently more than 5,300 Nicaraguans with TPS in the United States. Therefore, employers must verify whether their employees have work authorization documents that are tied to Nicaraguan TPS. If so, those employees must present new documents or be terminated on January 5, 2019. 

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 requires employers to verify identity and employment authorization of all employees. For those with expiring work authorizations, like the Nicaraguan TPS beneficiaries, the law requires employers to re-verify their authorization before it expires. 

For questions or more information about this alert, please contact our immigration attorneys, Maya Salah or Jessica Federico.

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