March 15, 2013 | Criminal Convictions, Family Petition, Temporary Protected Status
Q. I’m Honduran, 26 years old. I have been in the United States since 2005. When I was crossing the border in 2005, immigration arrested me and released me after a few months. I was scheduled to go to immigration court, but I was too scared to attend. I was afraid I would be deported. I have never had a criminal record. I work, but since my job always paid with cash, I never paid my income taxes. My father has had temporary protected status since 1999. In 2011, I applied for TPS but my request was denied. After that, immigration sent me a deportation letter based on my 2005 case. My questions are: 1. I would like to bring my mother and brother to the United States legally. Can my dad sponsor them? 2. Do I have a case for TPS? I have been to three different lawyers and they all gave me different advice. 3. I just started my own business part-time, is truck delivery. Can I get my TPS based on having my own business? The assets are only $25,000. I really want to be legal, but it seems is really hard. I have been trying for the last two years. Would you please give me a solution. Thank you for your time and I will be waiting for your reply soon.
A. Your case is complicated, but I will try to answer your questions one by one. It is unlikely that your father can help family members come to the United States. TPS allows people to stay in the United States temporarily and grants employment authorization to people from countries where a natural disaster or other emergency makes it unsafe to return home. The TPS rules do not allow for the TPS holder to sponsor family members. Often, right after the event that caused the need for TPS, or right after the announcement for TPS, a U.S. consulate abroad gives special visitor visas to family members so that they can come to the United States. Another option is that family members are allowed to enter the United States under “humanitarian parole.” In your case, however, because it is so long after the initial announcement of TPS in 1998, it is unlikely that your family members would be able to come through special visitor visas or through humanitarian parole to join your father.
For your second question, from what you write, you do not qualify for TPS. For Honduran TPS, you must have been continuously residing in the United States since December 30, 1998, and physically present since January 5, 1999. Since you state that you entered the United States in 2005, you do not qualify for TPS.
If you did qualify for TPS, you might qualify to file a late initial registration (that is, applying for TPS after the filing deadline). Qualified TPS applicants may qualify late, if they meet the criteria for late initial registration. Examples are individuals with a pending asylum case or you were in valid nonimmigrant status, or if you are the child of someone eligible for TPS. The rules allow for people to apply for TPS even if there is a final order of removal (as long as the basis for the order of removal is not an offense that bars the person from being granted TPS). But since you didn’t come to the United States on December 30, 1998 or before, those rules don’t help you. Your last question is about your business. Congress created TPS to help individuals in the United States from countries where it is not safe to return after a natural disaster or other catastrophic event. Having a business in the United States doesn’t make you eligible for TPS. The law allows for certain visas for investors and business people, but given your immigration history, it is unlikely that you would qualify. To apply for this type of visa, the amount invested must be substantial; $25,000 will not be enough.
While I can’t suggest a path to permanent residence for you, if you have questions about whether there is a deportation order against you, you can learn for sure by calling the Immigration Court Information System hotline at (800) 898-7180 to find out the status of your case. This is an automated telephone system that provides information about the cases of people who are currently in or have previously been in deportation, exclusion, or removal proceedings. You will need your Alien Registration (A) number to get the information. The A-number is the case number the immigration authorities assign to your case and that follows you throughout your immigration history in the United States.
It is commendable that you wish to legalize your status in the United States. Hopefully Congress will provide a remedy for out-of-status immigrants. Perhaps then you can get legal status.