The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a foreign country for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) 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 for political or natural disaster reasons, among others. Currently, the countries that are designated for TPS status are El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, and Sudan.
There are many immigrants that have been living in the United States with TPS status for many years. As an immigration lawyer, my TPS clients often want to know if they can adjust their status, or get a green card.
The answer is it depends. A person who has been granted TPS is deemed to be in lawful immigration status for the duration of the TPS period and is also given the right to receive a work permit and obtain work in the United States. But obtaining TPS status is not a path to citizenship. TPS does not lead to a green card or any other immigration benefit. At the end of the TPS period, the immigrant is supposed to leave the United States and return to his or her home country.
However, there are some exceptions. An individual who enters the United States and is inspected and admitted by immigration authorities is eligible to adjust status (get a green card) within the United States if an immediate relative petition is filed. For example, this means that if you entered the United States with a valid “status”, then got Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and later married a U.S. Citizen, you may be eligible for a green card.
The same is not true for immigrants who entered the United States without being inspected by immigration authorities. Currently, those who entered without inspection are not eligible for adjustment of status (green card) within the United States. Many immigration lawyer have taken the position that TPS applicants present themselves for inspection as part of the application and petition process for TPS, and those who have gotten TPS status should be considered to have been “inspected” and “admitted” under immigration laws. Unfortunately, this is not currently the position that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) takes and until that important change in the law happens, millions of TPS beneficiaries who have been in the United States for years and who have families and roots in the United States will be faced with having no immigration status at the end of the TPS period.
If you are currently a beneficiary of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or need to apply for TPS, we can help. Call us 24/7 at (512) 329-2770. Our immigration law firm is experienced in working TPS cases and we can help you with adjutsment of status (green card petition) if you are eligible.