U.S. Restores Green Card Process for Some TPS Holders

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently issued a memorandum that reinstates a green card or permanent resident status process for some foreign nationals with Temporary Protected Status (TPS). This process was available for years before a Trump-era Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) decision in the Matter of Z-R-Z-C shut it down. In that decision, the BIA ruled that the inspection TPS holders underwent when returning to the country did not qualify as the “inspection” needed to adjust their status. USCIS has rescinded the ruling in the Matter of Z-R-Z-C and returned to the plain meaning of “inspection.”

Under this process, foreign nationals who entered the U.S. without legal permission but who now have TPS can travel outside the U.S. with permission and undergo an official inspection at a U.S. port of entry. Inspection is a requirement for foreign nationals to go through the adjustment of status process to obtain a green card. Therefore, if the individual is married to a U.S. citizen or has a child over the age of 21 who is a U.S. citizen, they then are eligible to apply for a green card based on family sponsorship. However, these individuals still must meet all other legal requirements and go through the adjustment of status process to obtain green cards.

Furthermore, USCIS has made the change retroactive, so TPS holders who left the country following the Matter of Z-R-Z-C decision and were readmitted to the U.S. with inspection can now apply for a green card if they are otherwise eligible. They now will have the “inspection” necessary to adjust their status based on their reentry to the U.S., even if they did not previously qualify due to the BIA decision.

TPS holders still may only travel outside the U.S. and retain TPS if they receive advance permission from the U.S. government. In addition, they must show that they must travel outside the U.S. for urgent humanitarian reasons, such as a sick relative or, if requested by a nonprofit organization, to further American social and cultural interests. Traveling outside the U.S. without advance permission can cause individuals to lose their TPS.

The U.S. government makes foreign nationals eligible for TPS if their home countries are unsafe. TPS allows them to live and work in the U.S. for a limited period if they meet all legal requirements. The 15 countries the U.S. has currently designated for TPS include Afghanistan, Cameroon, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Yemen.

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