This article was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Loan Huynh, Fredrikson Immigration Department Chair, is a member.
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke announced on November 6, 2017, her decision to terminate the temporary protected status (TPS) designation for Nicaragua with a delayed effective date of 12 months to allow for an orderly transition before the designation terminates on January 5, 2019. She also determined that additional information is necessary regarding the TPS designation for Honduras before a determination can be made. As a result, the TPS designation for Honduras will be automatically extended for 6 months from the current January 5, 2018, expiration date to July 5, 2018.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said the decision to terminate TPS for Nicaragua was made after a review of the conditions on which the country's original 1999 designation were based and whether those "substantial but temporary" conditions prevented Nicaragua from adequately handling the return of its nationals. Based on all available information, Acting Secretary Duke determined that those substantial but temporary conditions caused in Nicaragua by Hurricane Mitch no longer exist, and thus the current TPS designation must be terminated.
DHS said that the 12-month delay in the TPS expiration for Nicaragua "will provide time for individuals with TPS to seek an alternative lawful immigration status in the United States, if eligible, or, if necessary, arrange for their departure. It will also provide time for Nicaragua to prepare for the return and reintegration of their citizens."
Regarding Honduras, Acting Secretary Duke said she concluded that despite receiving input from a broad spectrum of sources, additional time is necessary to obtain and assess supplemental information pertaining to country conditions in Honduras to make an "appropriately deliberative" TPS designation determination. Based on the lack of definitive information regarding conditions on the ground compared to pre-Hurricane Mitch, the Acting Secretary has not made a determination yet, thereby automatically extending the current TPS designation for Honduras for six months.
DHS noted, however, that it is possible that the TPS designation for Honduras will be terminated at the end of the 6-month automatic extension "with an appropriate delay."
DHS said that it recognizes the difficulty facing citizens of Nicaragua, "and potentially citizens of other countries," who have received TPS designation for "close to two decades." Acting Secretary Duke called on Congress "to enact a permanent solution for this inherently temporary program."
Nicaraguans and Hondurans with TPS will be required to reapply for employment authorization documents to legally work in the United States until the end of their TPS extensions. Further details will appear in a Federal Register notice, DHS said.