Some non-citizens who are granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) originally entered the U.S. without inspection and were therefore not considered to be admitted or paroled into the country. Since admittance or parole is a requirement for adjusting status to lawful permanent resident, the lack of inspection has prevented some TPS beneficiaries from successfully applying for green cards. However, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently made changes to its policy regarding authorized travel for TPS beneficiaries, and in doing so provided a path for some individuals who are currently in limbo to obtain a green card, provided they meet all other criteria.
Changes to Travel Authorization Policy
In a July 1, 2022 memo, USCIS announced changes to its policy regarding authorized travel for TPS beneficiaries and updated its interpretation of how these individuals should be treated upon returning from authorized travel. Generally, two things have changed:
- USCIS previously used an advance parole mechanism to authorize travel for TPS beneficiaries. Now, the agency will provide a new TPS travel authorization document. This document will serve as evidence that the individual received prior consent for travel in addition to serving as evidence that the individual may be inspected and admitted into TPS if all other requirements are met.
- Those TPS beneficiaries who have been inspected and admitted into TPS by the Department of Homeland Security will be considered “inspected and admitted” and “present in the U.S. pursuant to a lawful admission,” including for purposes of adjustment of status. Importantly, this new interpretation applies even if the TPS beneficiary was present without admission or parole when initially granted TPS.
Applying for Travel Authorization
USCIS began issuing the new travel authorization documents, entitled “Form I-512T, Authorization for Travel by a Noncitizen to the United States,” to TPS beneficiaries effective July 1, 2022. Prior to that date, USCIS issued advance parole documents as evidence of its consent to allow the bearer to travel outside the U.S. (If you are a TPS beneficiary with an existing, unexpired advance parole document, you may continue to use it for travel outside the U.S. for the duration of its validity period.)
To apply for a travel authorization document, use Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.
In considering a TPS beneficiary’s application for adjustment of status, USCIS will consider whether to apply the new guidance to travel undertaken by the applicant prior to the issuance of this memo. This consideration will include a case-by-case review of any reliance on the prior policy, applicable law, and other relevant factors. To be eligible for consideration under the updated interpretation, prior travel must meet several requirements:
• The individual had to have obtained prior authorization to travel abroad temporarily on the basis of being a TPS beneficiary.
• The individual’s TPS was not withdrawn or the designation for the individual’s foreign country did not expire or was not otherwise terminated during the foreign travel.
• The noncitizen returned to the U.S. in accordance with the authorization.
• Upon return, the noncitizen was inspected at a designated port of entry and paroled or otherwise permitted to pass into the U.S. in accordance with the TPS-based travel authorization.
Traveling to Overcome Inadmissibility
While USCIS’s new interpretation may provide certain individuals with a path to change their status and become permanent residents, it is important to note that foreign travel for TPS beneficiaries is rife with complications. If you are a TPS beneficiary who is looking to adjust your status, or if you are considering applying for travel authorization and traveling internationally, discuss your plans and options with a competent immigration attorney with a focus on serving TPS beneficiaries. To speak with an immigration lawyer with significant experience in TPS matters, contact Bolour/Carl Immigration Group at 323-857-0034 or [email protected].