On January 8, 2021, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in Sanchez v. Wolf, a case that addresses whether a grant of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) authorizes eligible non-citizens to apply for lawful permanent residence. A copy of the Petition for Writ of Certiorari can be found here.
Currently, there is a split among the U.S. Circuit Courts regarding this issue. The Sixth and Ninth Circuit have held that a grant of TPS counts as an admission for adjustment of status eligibility. The Eleventh Circuit, however, has held that TPS does not constitute an admission. Sanchez v. Wolf stems from the Third Circuit, which joined the Eleventh Circuit in holding that TPS does not constitute an admission for adjustment of status purposes.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a temporary form of immigration status granted to nationals of certain countries that have been deemed unsafe for return due to armed conflict, environmental disaster, or other extraordinary conditions. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can grant TPS to eligible nationals already in the United States, which allows them to remain in the country as well as obtain work and travel authorization.
Sanchez v. Wolf raises the question of whether a TPS recipient can apply for adjustment of status. To be eligible for adjustment of status, the applicant must show that they were inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States under Section 245 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The petitioners in this case argue that an immigrant who has not been admitted and inspected or paroled into the United States should nonetheless be eligible to adjust status if they have been granted TPS.
This U.S. Supreme Court decision will have great consequences for TPS recipients. If the Supreme Court sides with the Eleventh and Third Circuit, TPS recipients who entered the United States unlawfully would not be eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence. Many TPS recipients have been residing in the U.S. for decades, and an unfavorable decision could force them back to their home countries. The case is currently pending, and oral arguments will be heard by the Supreme Court in the coming months.