Undocumented TPS Recipients Could be Eligible for Green Cards

A decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals paves the way for immigrants with Temporary Protected Status to adjust their status if they meet certain requirements.

Back in March of 2017, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on a little-known case that had a major impact on immigrants seeking to stay in the United States. The federal government could have appealed the court’s decision to the United States Supreme Court but failed to do so.

The Ninth Circuit’s decision widely expands the ability of some immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, to apply for a green card through adjustment of status.

Adjustment of status allows an immigrant to obtain permanent resident status in the United States without having to leave the country. The process had typically been unavailable for those who came into the country illegally.

The ruling stems from the case of Jesus Ramirez and Barbara Lopez. Jesus Ramirez is an El Salvadoran national who obtained Temporary Protected Status, Barbara Lopez is his wife and a U.S. citizen. The couple sued the feds after Ramirez was denied a green card after marriage, in part, because he entered the country without a proper inspection.

The federal court disagreed with the government’s position stating that TPS meets the requirements of an inspection.

“The TPS Statute clearly provides that recipients count as being ‘inspected and admitted’ for purposes of adjusting their status,” the ruling states.

TPS status is granted for foreigners in the United States that “due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately.”

TPS status can be renewed by the Attorney General. In Ramirez’ case, El Salvador was designated TPS after a major earthquake in 2001.

According to the Congressional Research Service, as of January 2017, the United States provided TPS to over 325,000 immigrants from 13 countries.

What countries are designated as TPS?

According to USCIS people from the countries listed below are currently able to apply for TPS. The list is current as of August 9, 2017.

List of countries eligible to apply for TPS, dated from August 9, 2017.

Who can adjust status under this ruling?

There are some requirements for those who are considering this route to adjust their status in the United States.

  1. You must have valid Temporary Protected Status.
  2. You must have a United States Citizen spouse or child.
  3. You must not have a serious criminal record including deportation orders.
  4. You must live in one of these states: CA, AZ, NV, ID, MT, WA, OR, AK, HI, KY, MI, OH, TN the Northern Marianas Islands and Guam.

Before filing any paperwork regarding this order it is advised potential applicants seek out the assistance of an immigration attorney. TPS cases can be complicated and may require professional legal assistance.

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