Understanding the Distinctions Between DACA and TPS

Overview of DACA and TPS

DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and TPS, or Temporary Protected Status, are both programs implemented by the United States government to offer temporary relief to certain groups of immigrants. However, there are significant differences between the two that individuals should understand.

DACA: Providing Relief for Undocumented Immigrants Brought to the U.S. as Children

DACA was established in 2012 under the Obama administration to provide protection from deportation and work authorization to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, often referred to as “Dreamers.” To be eligible for DACA, applicants must meet specific criteria, including being under a certain age when they arrived in the U.S., having continuously resided in the country since a certain date, and meeting educational or military service requirements.

DACA recipients are granted temporary relief from deportation for a renewable period of two years, during which they can legally work in the United States. However, DACA does not provide a path to citizenship or lawful permanent resident status.

TPS: Offering Temporary Protection to Individuals from Designated Countries

On the other hand, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a temporary immigration status granted to eligible nationals of designated countries affected by armed conflict, natural disasters, or other extraordinary conditions. TPS allows individuals from these countries to remain in the United States for a designated period, during which they are protected from deportation and may receive work authorization.

Unlike DACA, which is based on individual eligibility criteria, TPS is country-specific and depends on the U.S. government’s designation of a particular country for TPS based on the conditions in that country. TPS beneficiaries must re-register periodically to maintain their status, and the designation for each country can be extended or terminated depending on changing circumstances.

Key Differences Between DACA and TPS

Eligibility Criteria

While DACA is available to individuals who were brought to the U.S. as children and meet specific requirements related to age, education, and continuous residence, TPS eligibility is based on nationality and residency in a designated country affected by temporary adverse conditions.

Duration of Relief

DACA recipients receive temporary relief from deportation and work authorization for renewable periods of two years, while TPS beneficiaries are granted protection for a designated period, which can vary depending on the conditions in their home country and decisions made by the U.S. government regarding TPS designations.

Path to Permanent Residency

One of the most significant distinctions between DACA and TPS is the potential pathway to permanent residency or citizenship. DACA does not offer a direct path to permanent residency or citizenship, whereas individuals with TPS may be eligible to adjust their status to lawful permanent resident if they meet certain criteria.


In conclusion, while DACA and TPS both provide temporary relief to immigrants in the United States, they serve distinct purposes and have different eligibility criteria and durations of relief. Understanding the differences between these programs is essential for individuals seeking to navigate the complexities of U.S. immigration law and policy.