TPS Syria

Here is information about Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) for people from Syria. What you need to know to be eligible, how to apply for TPS Syria, get legal help, and avoid scams.


headshot of Syrian American man
Photo: iStock/Juan Monino

Update: The registration period for TPS Syria has been extended through September 30, 2022. The 18-month registration period for new applications started on March 19, 2021.

Here is what you need to know to be eligible for TPS Syria (if you are a new applicant):

  • Register during the 18-month registration period from March 19, 2021 – through September 30, 2022
  • Submit Form I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status. 
  • To have continuously lived in the United States since March 19, 2021.
  • To have a continuous physical presence in the United States since March 31, 2021.
  • Individuals will need to undergo a background check. Anyone who has been convicted of two misdemeanors or one felony is ineligible.
  • You will need to provide identification, such as a passport or birth certificate.
  • You will need proof that you have not left the USA since arriving. You can provide documents such as work, school, or utility records.
  • You are encouraged to apply as early as possible during the registration period.

How do I apply for TPS?

To apply for TPS Syria, you will need:

  • TPS application (Form I-821). You can find it here.
  • Pay a $50 application fee and an $85 biometrics fee.

Those applying for the first time for TPS Syria can file Form I-821 online. If you are re-registering for an extension, you must file a paper Form I-821.

The initial TPS Syria designation was on March 29, 2012. You can learn more about TPS Syria on the USCIS website.

Work authorization under TPS Syria

If you apply for and receive TPS Syria, you can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). To apply for EAD you will need to pay a $410 fee. The application for EAD is Form I-765, and you can apply online if you are a first-time applicant.

Can I register late?

USCIS may accept a late registration or re-registration application if you have a good cause. If you missed the re-registration period, go to the USCIS TPS information page and click on “Filing Late” to find out if you qualify.

What can I do if my TPS Syria has already expired?

If you can, the best thing to do is meet with a lawyer. You can search for a low-cost lawyer on ImmigrationLawHelp.com or on the CLINIC legal directory.

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What if I can’t meet with a lawyer? What if I can’t afford a lawyer?

We know many individuals cannot meet with a lawyer. Here is more information to help you understand your options. This is not legal advice but instead information to help you consider your choices.

Find help online

Immi helps immigrants understand their legal options.  You can use their online screening tool to guide you to your best options. Take the immi interview to see if you qualify for different immigration status. Immi’s legal information and referral advice are always free.

You can try to change your status

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) says:

“TPS is a temporary benefit that does not lead to lawful permanent resident status or give any other immigration status. However, registration for TPS does not prevent you from:

  • Applying for non-immigrant status
  • Filing for adjustment of status based on an immigrant petition
  • Applying for any other immigration benefit or protection for which you may be eligible”

Applying for non-immigrant status

Even if TPS is considered a qualification to adjust status, you must be eligible to apply. You may apply for a green card if you entered lawfully and meet other requirements. These may be because of your family or your job. Find out how to apply for citizenship.

Applying for asylum

Every year people come to the United States seeking protection because they have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution due to:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Membership in a particular social group
  • Political opinion

TPS holders can apply for asylum status, especially if they have been here a year or less.  If you have been here for less than a year, you should APPLY NOW. However, it is very important that you know the USCIS has recently changed how asylum applications are processed. Now, they are reviewing the most recent applications first. Once you submit an application for asylum, it might be a very short time before your case is heard. So, you must only apply for asylum if you do qualify because otherwise you risk having your case heard and then being deported. You can fill in the form to apply for asylum (this is a legal form and it would be best if you had a lawyer to help you complete the form).

If you have been in the USA for more than one year, you can still apply for asylum but it will be more difficult (and it is already hard to win an asylum case).

Find out more about how to apply for asylum.

If you do decide to apply for asylum, you should try to find a pro-bono (low cost or free attorney) to help you. You can search for a pro-bono or low-cost lawyer on ImmigrationLawHelp.com or on the CLINIC legal directory.

Applying for other protected status

Some TPS holders may stay in the United States under special visas. There are visas for victims of human trafficking, battered spouses, children or parents, and victims of other crimes.

If you are a woman and think you might qualify for a special visa because of violence, abuse, or another reason, you can contact the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project.

If you entered without documents

Depending on where you live, you may be able to apply for a change of status even if you entered the United States without paperwork. This is because gaining TPS counts as admission in some parts of the United States.

Can I ask my work to sponsor me?

It is possible for your employer to help you stay lawfully in the United States by sponsoring you. Your employer will have to go through a long process with USCIS. Depending on the kind of work you do, your employer may be able to get you a special visa or permit. If they want to help you, they should start the process now to find out if you are eligible. Employers can find more information from USCIS. However, normally only immigrants who are highly skilled are able to find employers who will sponsor them. These might include doctors, engineers, and tech workers. If you work at a basic or entry-level job, do not ask your employer for this option.

What will happen if I stay in the country without documents? (What if I become an undocumented immigrant?)

If you stay in the country without documents, you risk being deported or arrested. Here are some pages with more information to help you understand your rights and what to do if you are detained.

Know your rights – ACLU

Do you know your rights? These easy-to-use resources about different situations were created by the ACLU so you can have your rights at your fingertips.

Know your rights – National Immigration Law Center

Immigrants have certain rights, learn what are your rights if you are arrested or detained.

Be aware of scams

USCIS documents are free. Do not pay to obtain any of the USCIS forms. You can download them from the USCIS website. Be aware of people who ask for payment to get these forms and claim they can file your TPS application. To learn more about how to avoid scams, you can click here.

The Embassy of Syria in the United States

The Syrian Embassy in the United States is closed, but the US Arab Chamber of Commerce can help with certifying personal and business documents, such as birth certificates, educational diplomas, and export documents. Find more information on their website including directions for sending documents and fees.

The address is:
Syria Legalization Service,
US Arab Chamber of Commerce,
1330 New Hampshire Ave NW,  Suite B1,
Washington, DC 20036.

The phone number is: (202) 3347-5800.

Information provided with the support of CWS and CLINIC. Other information on this page comes from the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal RegisterUSCISand other trusted sources. It is intended for guidance and is updated as often as possible. USAHello does not give legal advice, nor are any of our materials intended to be taken as legal advice. If you are looking for a free or low-cost lawyer or legal help, we can help you find free and low-cost legal services.