March 31, 2017, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Ramirez v. Brown, came down with a decision that will help many people with Temporary Protected Status (TPS), pave a pathway to citizenship. Essentially, the Court reasoned that being granted TPS satisfies the notion of being “admitted” for the purposes of adjustment of status. Remember, to adjust status in the U.S., or obtain your green card in the U.S. without returning to your home country, one must have a petitioner, such as a U.S. citizen child over 21, or a U.S. citizen spouse, have been admitted to the U.S. lawfully, and not be otherwise inadmissible.
TPS allows foreign nationals to live and work in the United States without the fear of being deported. TPS is granted for various reasons, such as civil war, or a natural disaster. TPS is usually granted until these individuals can safely return to their country. The Department of Homeland Security has currently designated the following countries for TPS: El Salvador, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Liberia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. TPS was historically a temporary benefit that did not directly lead to a green card. However, now, with Ramirez, registration for TPS can lead to a green card.
The Court in Ramirez stated that being granted TPS was sufficient to be considered to be “admitted” to the U.S. This decision is significant because, many of those with TPS entered the U.S. without documents. Although TPS holders have not entered lawfully, the Court reasoned, being granted TPS by the government is an admission, albeit temporary, and this is sufficient for the requirement of being admitted. Again, applicants must still have a viable petitioner, and not be otherwise inadmissible for any reason, but otherwise, TPS is an option for adjustment.
Prior to this recent case, those who had TPS and entered the U.S. without documents were not considered to be “admitted to the U.S. Many of those that were granted TPS status and had family in the U.S. had to return to their native countries once it was safe. If they were eligible, they would have to then wait to perhaps immigrate back to the U.S. This new case in the 9th Circuit opens many doors for those who wish to remain in the U.S., indefinitely. If you feel this case may apply to you, speak with a knowledgeable attorney.