What Is the Difference Between Temporary Protected Status and Asylum?

Two types of immigration categories that get confused quite frequently are temporary protected status (TPS) and asylum. TPS and asylum are both humanitarian in nature and reflect the United States government offering refugees an opportunity to come to the United States because they’re no longer safe in their home country. In that regard, the two are very similar in principle.

The key difference between the two is that TPS is not individualized, while asylum requires a very individualized inquiry into the asylee’s case. For TPS, an individual needs to establish from which country he or she came. If that country is eligible for TPS, as designated by Congress in response to some event in the home country that made him or her a refugee, the individual may be eligible for TPS.

As to asylum, though, one must conduct an individualized analysis of the individual’s specific circumstances to identify either past persecution or credible fear of a future persecution were you to return to your home country.  This persecution must be either from the government of your country or a third party that your government cannot or will not control.  And, the persecution must be based on either race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in another particular social group.

In short, asylum is much more difficult to prove than temporary protected status because of the required individualized inquiry. But, asylum, unlike TPS, provides a path to a green card and cannot be revoked in the same manner as TPS, where countries can be removed from the list of eligible countries on relatively short notice.

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