U.S. Supreme Court’s New Ruling on Temporary Protected Status (TPS): What to look for

Protesters hold signs supporting dreamers and TPS outside of the U.S. Supreme Court. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

This blog has been updated to include Ukraine’s TPS designation, announced by Secretary Mayorkas on March 2, 2022.

Within the United States, there are currently around 400,000 immigrants considered to be holding Temporary Protected Status, or TPS as known to many. Just last week, the US Supreme Court ruled that immigrants who entered the US illegally and received TPS are no longer able to apply for a green card solely based on holding TPS. This would have allowed for TPS receipients to become lawful permanent residents.


What is Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?

Under the TPS program, foreign nationals living in the United States are allowed to live and work (with an Employment Authorization Document – EAD) in the US due to unsafe and/or unstable conditions in their home countries. These conditions include ongoing conflict such as a civil war, environmental disaster, political upheaval or another extraordinary condition. 


There is a list of 12 countries which currently qualify for TPS. The Biden Administration has added three (3) more countries, Venezuela, Myanmar/Burma, and now Ukraine, to the list of TPS eligible countries. Other countries that currently qualify for TPS in the United States are El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. A full and exhaustive list of TPS eligible countries and their requirements can be found using the USCIS weblinks below.


Select the country link for additional information.


For more in depth information on TPS and whether or not you or a loved one qualify, please visit this USCIS link.


How does this change TPS moving forward?

The Supreme Court decision emphasizes the “temporary” in temporary protected status. The ruling is meant to clarify that those who were approved for TPS are seeking safety for a limited amount of time and TPS should not be used as a permanent pathway to a green card (permanent residency). 


I have TPS, am I affected by this ruling?

If you have come to the US due to war, natural disaster, or another form of instability in your home country and are seeking a pathway to a green card, this may affect you. We want to clarify that this Supreme Court decision does not change the status of current TPS recipients. It also does not mean that TPS individuals are unable to receive a green card at all. It does, however, make it more challenging for those who entered the US unlawfully to seek green card status. TPS recipients can apply for specific visas if they are a victim of serious crimes in their home nation or they also have the option of applying for asylum. Asylum applications are usually for individuals who fear persecution upon returning to their home country. This method can often times lead to an eventual green card, although it depends on specific case details that are different for everyone. This new ruling will make it much harder for many TPS holders to receive a green card based on TPS alone, as the bar is now much higher.


Additionally, those who entered the United States illegally and were granted TPS are now ineligible to seek permanent residency on that basis alone. However, if you were to enter legally and overstayed a visa for example, you can still apply to become a lawful permanent resident in the United States.


While this ruling changes the way we look at Temporary Protected Status and its future benefits, there’s no immediate need to worry. As a TPS foreign national, you still have the ability to apply and become a permanent resident and obtain your green card.


We hope you found this blog helpful and informational. As always, please reach out to our firm if you have any questions or concerns about your case, that of a loved one, or if you’d like to discuss details regarding TPS or Asylum with one of our trained professionals. We would be glad to assist you whether or not you are already a client with our firm. Please give us a call at our Pittsburgh office at 412-258-8080, our Philadelphia office at 215-982-2381, or schedule a free consultation on our site using this link. We look forward to working with you.

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