U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a new policy memorandum on July 1 that eliminated a barrier for many Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients and restored a pathway many have used to obtain a green card. It also provides beneficiaries with a process for traveling outside of the United States and returning in TPS status, if still eligible. The new memo rescinds an August 2020 policy adopting the decision, Matter of Z-R-Z-C-.
Matter of Z-R-Z-C- targeted the subset of TPS recipients who entered the United States through the border without inspection. The Immigration and Nationality Act requires applicants wishing to adjust their status to obtain a green card to show they were “inspected and admitted or paroled” into the United States by an immigration officer.
Under USCIS’ previous policy memo, returning to the United States on advance parole—one type of USCIS authorization to travel outside the country—did not count as an entry with inspection and admission. The policy made it much more difficult for TPS recipients who initially entered without inspection to successfully apply for a green card without having to leave the country.
Now, TPS recipients may apply for a “TPS travel authorization” document. An entry into the United States with this document will be considered an entry with “inspection and admission.” Those who have been inspected and admitted into the country using TPS travel authorization will have been “inspected and admitted” and are “present in the United States pursuant to a lawful admission,” for purposes of green card eligibility. This is true even if the TPS recipient was present without admission or parole when initially granted TPS.
These changes will retroactively apply to TPS recipients who traveled with advance parole between August 20, 2020 and July 1, 2022, if their cases are within the jurisdiction of the federal court of appeals for the Fifth Circuit. For TPS recipients with cases in other parts of the United States, USCIS will make a case-by-case determination. For instance, the agency will consider factors like whether the TPS recipient relied on USCIS’ prior interpretation, and whether the TPS recipient will be harmed or helped if the prior entry is now considered to be an admission.
The reversal of this Trump-era policy is long overdue for TPS recipients, many of whom have lived and worked in the United States for years. Providing a pathway for a green card can give peace of mind to people who have lived in the United States with uncertainty for years and risk facing dangerous conditions in their home countries.