Everything You Need to Know About Form I-821
If you’re a foreign national living in the U.S. but are not able to go back to your homeland and need to stay in the U.S. due to some circumstances, then you have to file Form I-821. In this article, we will explain what you need to know before you filing Form I-821.
What Is Form I-821?
Form I-821 is an application form provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for eligible applicants seeking Temporary Protected Status in the United States. Commonly referred to as TPS, this form is provided to citizens of other countries when they face unsafe conditions in their native land.
Examples of unsafe conditions include political unrest, armed conflicts, or a natural disaster. Based on the information provided in the form, the applicant is either granted or declined the status.
If granted, the applicant cannot be deported or detained by the US Department of Homeland Security until the status is revoked. This form is also used for those under TPS and seeking re-registration for extending the tenure.
Who Is Eligible for Temporary Protected Status?
To get Temporary Protected Status, you need to be eligible under the USCIS guidelines. Only citizens of certain countries are deemed eligible for TPS under INA Section 212(a). These countries are Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
As an applicant, you should be admissible as an immigrant under INA section 212(a). There should be a valid reason for you to apply for TPS in the first place. It might be a natural disaster that struck your homeland or a civil war that broke out and the future is uncertain.
While the criteria are stringent, there are exceptions. The USCIS may offer waivers for some applicants which it considers is in the best public interest. But serious cases including criminal acts are not acceptable for seeking a waiver.
The form, however, shouldn’t be used for requesting consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which is filed by unlawful residents living in the U.S. after being brought to the country as a child. Form I-821 is solely used to obtain Temporary Protected Status.
Benefits of TPS
The main benefit of gaining Temporary Protected Status is that you will be allowed to stay in the U.S. for a certain period without having to worry about the unfavorable conditions in your home country.
The number of days granted will vary depending on the nature and severity of the prevailing conditions. The minimum time frame is six months, while the upper limit can be upwards of 10 years.
Throughout your stay, you get many of the benefits that an average American enjoys. This includes traveling out of the U.S. either for personal or professional reasons, but you need to communicate this to the USCIS. You’ll get an Advance Parole document which you need to show abroad.
Please note that TPS doesn’t cover employment opportunities. If you’re planning to obtain TPS to become eligible for employment in the U.S., then you’re required to submit Form I-765 along with it. This will provide you an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) which you need to submit while applying for relevant jobs. It is advised to apply for this along with Form I-821, but some people wish to wait until their TPS is approved first by the USCIS. In such cases, you’d have to wait for three to four weeks after you’ve received TPS to obtain employment in the U.S.
TPS Application Checklist
Before you hand in the form for processing, you should check it twice or even three times for accuracy. Even a small typo can result in the cancellation of your application. Here’s the complete checklist:
- Updated Form I-821
- Form I-765 if applying for employment authorization
- Form I-601 if applying for receiving a waiver of inadmissibility
- Filing fees, separate for all forms applied.
- Identity of nationality evidence
- Date of entry evidence
- Continuous residence evidence
- Evidence for late application (if submitting late)
Form I-821 Instructions
You’re supposed to use the latest form available online for viewing, printing, filling out, and submitting the form. If you’re not connected to the internet, you can receive a physical copy by calling the USCIS at 1-800-375-5283.
The form consists of 10 parts covering all the information about you required for processing your application. These are:
- Type of Application
- Your Information
- Biographic Information
- Information about your current spouse (if any)
- Information about your former spouse (if any)
- Information about your children (if any)
- Eligibility (all questions compulsory)
- Your statement, contact details, certification, and signatures
- Interpreter’s statement, certification, and signature
- Contact information, declaration, and signature of preparer (if filed by someone on your behalf)
After submitting the form, the Application Support Center (ASC) will schedule an appointment for gathering biometric data. You need to visit the designated office for providing your fingerprint and other data.
For biometric verification, Form I-821 is supplemented with required documents which include, but are not limited to, evidence of nationality (like a passport), ASC appointment letter, EAD (if any), and receipts. If approved for Temporary Protected Status, you’ll be notified and asked to collect it from the office. If you’ve additionally requested for EAD and Advanced Parole, they will be issued subject to approval.
For filing Form I-821, you need to pay a one-time application fee of $50. For biometric services, another service fee of $85 is charged. For the waiver request, $45 is the fee. Filing the EAD along with Form I-821 for the first time is free of cost if you’re under 14 years of age or above 65.
For TPS re-registration, you’re not required to pay an application fee. For EAD re-registration, there’s a fee of $410.
How to Maintain Temporary Protected Status Benefits
If you’re seeking an extension of your TPS, then you’d need to approach the USCIS office before the expiration of your current status and re-register. With that said, it’s always better to plan everything in advance and stay up to date with any possible changes of regulations.
Form I-821 is an important form if you want to stay in the U.S. due to unstable conditions in your home country. We hope this article provided you with the necessary information. In case of any other questions, please comment below.