Supreme Court Nixes TPS Adjustment to Permanent Resident Status for Those Who Entered the United States Unlawfully
Dallas, TX (Law Firm Newswire) July 29 21, 2021 – The U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision that foreign nationals who receive Temporary Protected Status (TPS) after entering the United States unlawfully are not eligible to adjust their status to that of a lawful permanent resident. The ruling in Sanchez v. Mayorkas on June 7, 2021, is expected to bar thousands of individuals who hold TPS from applying to become lawful permanent residents of the United States.
The issue at the heart of the case was whether being granted TPS enables a person to obtain permanent resident status despite unlawful entry into the country. “The TPS program gives foreign nationals nonimmigrant status, but it does not admit them,” Justice Elena Kagan concluded in the opinion for the Court.
“The Court affirmed the longstanding view that adjustment requires admission to the U.S. as a prerequisite, and TPS, said the Court, does not cure unlawful entry,” commented Stewart Rabinowitz of the Dallas and Frisco law firm of Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C. “Now, persons granted TPS who entered the U.S. without status must look to Congress for a change in law for a path from TPS to permanent resident status. This is a frustrating outcome for some in TPS who have been in the U.S. for 20 or more years and have families and U.S.-citizen kids.”
Federal immigration law permits some nonimmigrants to apply for an adjustment of status provided they have gained lawful “admission” to the United States. In its definition of admission, federal law requires inspection and authorization by an immigration officer for lawful entry.
The case was brought by Jose Santos Sanchez, an El Salvador national who entered the United States unlawfully in 1997. He gained protection under TPS in 2001. Sanchez applied for permanent resident status in 2014, but U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) denied him adjustment of status because he had not been “admitted” at a port of entry and had entered the country illegally.
The Supreme Court’s ruling means that the original USCIS decision will stand. Sanchez’s TPS designation remains in effect.
TPS provides humanitarian relief to foreign nationals from certain countries. Under the program, foreign nationals already present in the United States can stay in the country for limited time periods, which can periodically be renewed.