TPS Immigrants Eligible for Permanent Residency, Despite Illegal Entry

The number of green cards available for Temporary Protected Status immigrants has been significantly expanded in certain states. Due to recent court rulings, immigrants with TPS may qualify for permanent residence even if they entered the country illegally.

Both Ninth and Sixth Circuit Court rulings expanded eligibility for immigrants with TPS. These districts cover the following states:

  • Kentucky
  • Michigan
  • Ohio
  • Tennessee
  • California
  • Arizona
  • Nevada
  • Idaho
  • Montana
  • Washington
  • Oregon
  • Alaska
  • Hawaii

The Northern Marianas Islands and Guam are also covered.

Temporary Protected Status is a special humanitarian status granted to nationals of countries that are designated unsafe to return to. A country may be designated for TPS due to ongoing armed conflict (such as civil war), an environmental disaster (such as an earthquake or hurricane) or an epidemic, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.

To be granted TPS an individual must already be living in the United States. TPS is a temporary status and does not lead to permanent residency. However, individuals with TPS may apply for another nonimmigrant status or file for adjustment of status based on an immigrant petition.

The plaintiff in the Ninth Circuit case, Jesus Ramirez, was denied an application for a marriage-based green card. Ramirez initially entered the United States illegally but was subsequently granted TPS. He later married a U.S. citizen and applied for permanent residency.

While Ramirez’s wife’s petition was approved, his adjustment of status application was denied, in part because he had not been “inspected and admitted or paroled” when he entered the United States. A federal district court judge disagreed, finding that: “the TPS statute clearly provides that recipients count as being ‘inspected and admitted’ for purposes of adjusting their status.” The Ninth Circuit affirmed that decision.


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