On Friday, March 31, 2017 in Ramirez v. Brown, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that TPS (Temporary Protected Status) qualifies as “lawful status” for purposes of Change of Status and Adjustment of Status. This clarifies an issue that will greatly help people to obtain a visa or green card, by letting them remain inside the United States for the process. Hill & Piibe has long argued that TPS can help a person qualify for Adjustment of Status, but before the Ramirez decision on Friday, a client would have had to invest time, money and uncertainty into a long appellate process.
TPS is granted to citizens of certain countries that have been designated by the Attorney General to be in need of temporary protection, such as during civil war or after massive natural disasters. TPS allows the person to remain in the U.S. lawfully, with a work permit, for a limited period of time. However, it cannot lead directly to a green card or any type of visa, and it is not permanent and can be canceled.
Now, TPS is recognized as “nonimmigrant status” in states subject to the Ninth Circuit’s jurisdiction. In order to be granted TPS, applicants undergo fingerprinting and an inspection process, similar to what occurs when a person applies for a temporary, or “nonimmigrant,” visa to enter the country.
Adjustment of Status is a procedure that allows you to remain inside the U.S. to pick up your green card, rather than leave the U.S. and go back to your home country to pick up the green card. Adjustment of Status not only saves time and cost of travel, but it also eliminates the risk of being denied entry back into the U.S. due to prior unlawful presence inside the U.S. Adjustment of Status requires a prior lawful “inspection and admission” to the U.S., and now TPS will qualify you for this element.
Similarly, now a person can obtain a more suitable nonimmigrant (“temporary visa”) status through the Change of Status procedure. This could be beneficial for people who do not want to rely on the uncertainty of TPS status, and who want more freedom to travel on a visa.
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