Picture: USA Morningpost.com

Many people who have TPS (Temporary Protected Status) will now be eligible for adjustment to permanent residency even if they entered the U.S. illegally, thanks to a new decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California. In Ramirez et al. v. Brown, the court held that, under the Immigration and Nationality Act, a TPS beneficiary is considered to be in lawful status as a nonimmigrant and has satisfied the requirements for becoming a lawful permanent resident, even though he or she may have illegally entered the U.S. You still need a basis for your adjustment to permanent residency, such as a marriage or other family petition or PERM labor certification and I-140. The Ninth Circuit decision covers only people residing in certain states. In addition to the Ninth Circuit, the Sixth Circuit has also made the same ruling. Thus, this will benefit residents of the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington. The Second and Third Circuits have not yet made any decision on this issue.

TPS is intended for immigrants who are temporarily unable to return to their home country because of armed conflict, an environmental disaster or other extraordinary condition. TPS currently covers certain individuals from El Salvador, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Liberia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen. To be eligible for TPS, you must be a national of the designated country, or a stateless person whose last habitual residence was that country, have been living in the U.S. since a certain date, made a timely application, or meet the requirements for late filing, and not have been convicted of a felony or two or more misdemeanors, and other grounds.

The Trump administration has announced that it is ending TPS for Haiti as of January 22, 2018. TPS for Honduras is also set to expire on January 5, 2018 as well as TPS for El Salvador on March 9, 2018. TPS for Syria is to expire March 31, 2018. TPS for Yemen is set to expire September 3, 2018. The Trump administration has not confirmed whether or not TPS for any other countries will be extended or terminated as well.

To be on the safe side, TPS beneficiaries should apply for adjustment to permanent residency, if they have a basis for eligibility, such as a relative petition or employment petition, prior to the expiration of their TPS so they will be in legal status on the date they apply.