Temporary protected status (TPS) for El Salvadorans in the U.S. has been extended through January 4, 2021, under an agreement with El Salvador, the Department of Homeland Security announced on October 28, 2019. There are 250,000 El Salvadorans in the U.S. with work permits on TPS.

The agreement provides that the two countries will cooperate on information sharing, border security, and “confront illegal migration.” The agreement also provides a 365-day transition period.

Since October 2018, when the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, in Ramos v. Nielsen, issued a nationwide preliminary injunction blocking termination of TPS for beneficiaries from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan, DHS has been extending TPS and work authorization into 2020 for those individuals. In March 2019, TPS beneficiaries from Nepal and Honduras received similar treatment. If the preliminary injunction is lifted, DHS promised an “orderly transition” of 120 days or the previously announced termination date.

Acting Director of USCIS Ken Cuccinelli explained that this is not an extension of TPS for El Salvador, as that has a specific legal meaning, but “[r]ather, work permits for Salvadorans will be extended for 1 year past resolution of litigation for an orderly wind down period.” The Administration still wants to repatriate Salvadorans, but recognizes that “a sudden inflow of 250,000 individuals to El Salvador could spark another mass migration to the U.S. and reinvigorate the crisis at the southern border.”

Additional information on implementation of the extension will be published in the Federal Register. Please reach out to a Jackson Lewis attorney for details and specific advice.