The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington has held that a grant of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is an “Admission” for purposes of Adjustment of Status – the process of applying for Permanent Residence or a “green card” in the United States.
The U.S. Government has generally taken the position that a grant of TPS is not an “Admission” into the United States. With limited exceptions, a person wishing to apply for a green card in the United States must show that he or she was admitted into the United States. When the Ramirez v. Dougherty case came before the Washington District Court in March 2014, the American Immigration Council (AIC) argued that a grant of TPS should be considered an “Admission.” Last year, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, had previously held that an individual granted TPS was “Admitted” and thus could adjust status. (See Flores v. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Serv.) On October 23, 2013 USCIS noted during a meeting with representatives of the American Immigration Lawyers Association that it was in the process of revising its guidance in the Sixth Circuit to comply with the holding of Flores but indicated that it had no plans to extend this revised guidance to other jurisdictions.
The Washington District Court has now issued its decision in the Ramirez case agreeing with the Sixth Circuit’s decision in Flores and holding that the individual in question, who was granted TPS status and is now married to a United States Citizen, may apply for his green card.
The Flores decision and the newly-issued Ramirez decision are huge victories for those who were granted TPS and now seek to Adjust Status. While other jurisdictions have not ruled on this issue, these holdings may serve as persuasive authority for other federal court circuits.