The Nacara (Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act) and TPS (Temporary Protective Status) are two types of special benefits granted by the U.S. immigration laws to certain aliens. This article briefly explains what Nacara and TPS are, and who may apply for these benefits.

The Nacara act was passed in 1997 to help the nationals of certain countries that were experiencing civil war such as Nicaragua, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala and certain Soviet Bloc countries. The Nacara benefits are divided in two sections: (1) Nacara §202, and (2) Nacara § 203 or special rule of cancellation of removal. Nacara §202 is a benefit granted to Nicaraguans and Cubans that allowed them to apply for lawful permanent resident status (LPR) before or on March 31, 2000. Thus, any benefit under this specific section of Nacara is no longer available. To be eligible for Nacara §202, applicants had to show that they were (1) nationals of Nicaragua or Cuba, (2) physically and continuously present in the U.S. since December 1, 1995, (3) admissible to the U.S. In some particular circumstances, applicants may still receive some Nacara §202 benefits. You should consult an immigration attorney to explore this option. Nacara §203, also known as special rule of cancellation of removal, is an immigration benefit granted to nationals of Guatemala, El Salvador, and certain Soviet Bloc countries. This benefit is still open to those who qualify, and may conduce to a LPR status (green card). Some of the requirements for each class are as follows,

Guatemalans: must show that they

1. First entered the United States on or before October 1, 1990 (ABC class member);

2. Registered for ABC benefits: on or before December 31, 1991; and

3. Has not been apprehended at time of entry after December 19, 1990.

Salvadoran: must show that they

1. First entered the United States on or before September 19, 1990 (ABC class member);

2. Registered for ABC benefits on or before October 31, 1991 (either by direct registration or by applying for Temporary Protected Status – TPS); and

3. Has not been apprehended at time of entry after December 19, 1990.

Or, a Guatemalan or Salvadoran national who filed an application for asylum on or before April 1, 1990.

Soviet Block nationals: must show that

1. Entered the United States on or before December 31, 1990;

2. Applied for asylum on or before December 31, 1991; and

3. At the time of filing the application was a national of one of the former Soviet bloc countries, which are the Soviet Union, Russia, any republic of the former Soviet Union, Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Yugoslavia, or any state of the former Yugoslavia.

The TPS or Temporary Protected Status is a special benefit that the Immigration laws grant certain aliens. This benefit by itself does not grant the right to apply for a LPR status. Instead, it allows aliens to remain in the U.S., and hold a work authorization document (WAD). The U.S. government grants TPS status to nationals of countries that are experiencing difficulties that prevent its nationals from returning safely, or when the country is unable to handle a massive return of its nationals. Some of the difficulties include ongoing armed conflicts, environmental disasters, and other extraordinary and temporary conditions. The list of countries receiving TPS benefits varies. As of 2010, countries receiving TPS are: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, and Sudan. TPS beneficiaries must re-register for the TPS benefits as the Immigration Service mandates. TPS holder may apply for travel documents to travel outside the U.S. Yet, it is advisable to consult an immigration attorney before applying for a travel document because certain inadmissibility may apply when the TPS alien comes back to the U.S. Usually, the TPS is requested to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; yet, a 2009-BIA decision held that TPS may be filed de novo before an immigration judge when the alien is in removal proceedings.

Attorney Martha L. Arias can help you with your Nacara or TPS application. Please call us for a consultation in our office, or go to our webpage and pay for an online consultation with the attorney to determine if you qualify for Nacara, or have any question about TPS applications.

Martha L. Arias, Esq. - Immigration Law Attorney