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New Immigration Policy Change Allows TPS Holders to Adjust Legal Status After Travel When Re-entering the U.S.

In July of 2022, USCIS published updated immigration policies that now make it easier for immigrants with TPS to receive their green cards while physically inside of the United States. The United States offers temporary protected status (TPS) to eligible nationals of certain countries who are experiencing ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. Nationals of these countries may be eligible for TPS if they meet certain criteria.

To be eligible for TPS, applicants must demonstrate that they:

Are nationals of a TPS-designated country;

Have continuously resided in the United States since the effective date of the TPS designation for their country;

Have been physically present in the United States since the date specified for their country; and

Meet other eligibility criteria, as specified in the relevant Federal Register notice.

When TPS is designated for a country, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, identifies the conditions in the country that prompted the designation. TPS designation may be granted for 6, 12, or 18 months and may be extended.

The following countries currently have TPS designations: Afghanistan, Burma (Myanmar), Cameroon, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Yemen.

What a TPS Holder Needs to Travel

Assuming the TPS holder has been granted travel authorization by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), he or she may travel outside the United States and re-enter using either a:

Advance Parole Document: An advance parole document is NOT a visa. It is a travel document that allows certain individuals who do not have a valid visa to enter the United States for a specific purpose. An advance parole document is generally issued for travel related to humanitarian, educational, or employment reasons.

Reentry Permit: A reentry permit serves two purposes. It allows certain individuals who do not have a valid visa to return to the United States after traveling abroad and it also serves as a combination advance parole and employment authorization document.

How Can a TPS Holder Adjust Status After Travel?

TPS holders who have travelled outside the United States may adjust their status upon their return by filing an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485) with USCIS. It is important to first discuss your case with an Immigration Lawyer to determine if you meet all the requirements for adjusted status.

To be eligible to adjust status under TPS, you must:

· Be physically present in the United States when you file your Form I-485;

· Be admissible to the United States in every other way; and

· Have maintained continuous physical presence and continuous residence in the United States since you were first granted TPS, up until the time you file your Form I-485.

If you have travelled outside the United States since you were granted TPS, you may still be eligible to adjust status as long as you meet the above requirements and:

· You departed the United States while TPS was in effect and you were maintaining your TPS status;

· You filed for readmission to the United States within the travel authorization period granted by USCIS (generally up to 6 months from the date you departed); and

· You have not been outside the United States for more than 180 days since you were granted TPS.

If you meet the requirements above and have travelled outside the United States, you must submit the following documentation with your Form I-485:

· A copy of your passport pages or other travel documents that show all your entries and exits from the United States;

· Copies of any documents that show you maintained your TPS status while you were outside the United States (e.g., copies of your work permit or EAD, or evidence that you continued to file your TPS reports); and

· A copy of the travel authorization issued by USCIS (if applicable).

. Copy of approved I-130 and eligible to file I-130 with I-485

If you do not meet the requirements above or have not travelled outside the United States, you do not need to submit any additional documentation with your Form I-485.

The process for a TPS holder to adjust status can be complicated. EVERY CASE IS DIFFERENT! After filing the necessary paperwork and undergoing an interview with an immigration officer, the TPS holder will be granted a green card if everything is in order. The green card will allow the TPS holder to live and work in the United States indefinitely.

TPS holders who have their status changed may be eligible for a work permit and can apply for a Social Security number. If they have been granted TPS, they are also protected from being removed from the United States and can live and work here legally for the duration of their TPS status. After their TPS status expires, they will have to leave the United States and apply for a new visa if they want to return.

The process to request a change in TPS status can be confusing and complex. You should work with an experienced Immigration Lawyer to determine if you meet all the qualifications to adjust your status before starting the process.

Patricia Elizee is an immigration attorney and managing partner of the Elizee Law Firm, 1110 Brickell Avenue, Suite 315, Miami, Florida 33131. Phone: 305-371-8846.


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