The United States on Thursday extended Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, for the ninth time, a move that will allow more than 208,000 Salvadorans to live and work in this country for another 18 months, the Department of Homeland Security announced.

In this way, if Salvadoran citizens complete the enrollment procedures properly, they will be able to remain in the United States until March 9, 2015, rather than have their TPS expire next Sept. 9.

The United States grants TPS to immigrants from countries experiencing severe consequences from armed conflicts and/or natural disasters and over the past decade it has been applied to several Central American nations affected by hurricanes and earthquakes, such as the one that struck El Salvador in 2001.

The Salvadoran Embassy in Washington hailed the measure in a communique and calculated that it will benefit 208,490 of its citizens who are currently on the TPS rolls, some 3,500 fewer than benefitted from the previous extension.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano authorized the measure in response to the request by the Salvadoran government formally made in April at a meeting between Salvadoran Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Salvadorans now have 60 days to sign up for TPS - that is, until July 29 - and they may do so at their country's embassy in Washington or at any of the 16 consulates in 11 U.S. states.

The 2010 Census tallied the Salvadoran population in the United States to be 1,214,000.

On April 3, the Department of Homeland Security also extended TPS for some 70,000 Hondurans. EFE