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Supreme Court Ruling on TPS: Lawful Admission Needed to Obtain Green Card

The United States Capitol

A Lawful Admission is Needed to Obtain a Green Card

On June 7, 2021, the US Supreme Court held in a unanimous decision that immigrants who were lawfully present in the United States under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) were not eligible for a green card if they didn’t have a lawful admission. Justice Elena Kagan wrote:

Lawful status and admission, as the court below recognized, are distinct concepts in immigration law: Establishing one does not necessarily establish the other.” She added “Because a grant of T.P.S. does not come with a ticket of admission, it does not eliminate the disqualifying effect of an unlawful entry.”

Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a temporary humanitarian relief granted to individuals who are already in the US and cannot safely return to their home country due to political and civil unrest, violence, war or natural disasters. There are currently 12 countries designed for TPS protection:

  • Burma (Myanmar),
  • El Salvador,
  • Haiti,
  • Honduras,
  • Nepal,
  • Nicaragua,
  • Somalia,
  • Sudan,
  • South Sudan,
  • Syria, Venezuela and
  • Yemen.

There are currently more than 400,000 TPS holders in the United States.

This decision put an end to a circuit split that allowed immigrants living in certain States to obtain their green cards, while others in a similar situation could not.  This ruling means that thousands of TPS holders who lack a lawful admission won’t be able to become lawful permanent residents, even though their TPS gives them lawful status to work and live in the US.

New legislation needed to create a pathway to LPR Status for undocumented immigrants

A new green card pathway for undocumented immigrants is needed today more than ever.  In March, the House passed a bill that would allow people who hold a temporary status, such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) – also known as “Dreamers” – or TPS, to obtain a green card. However, because of the high divide between Republicans and Democrats on this issue, this bill has yet to gain support and be voted in the Senate. If passed, this new legislation would specifically mean that undocumented immigrants and TPS holders who didn’t have a lawful admission would be deemed admitted for the purposes of adjusting status and getting their lawful permanent resident status in the United States.

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