The Difficulties of Applying for a Green Card under TPS

There is still no concrete path to permanent residency for TPS holders because of the admissibility criteria for I-485 applicants. However, leaving the U.S. and returning lawfully could create some viable options.

The USCIS announced this week that the agency will be extending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nationals who currently hold the status from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Sudan. This is great news for those who are currently residing in the U.S. as they will be able to remain in the country until December 31st, 2022. The extension also allows those with work permits to keep their existing EADs without needing to renew them.

According to the DHS, there are approximately 319,000 TPS holders in the U.S. today.[1]

However, there is currently an issue with TPS in that it is very difficult for those who have been approved for this status to adjust their status or apply for a green card/permanent residency. So while the news of this extension brings hope for immigrant communities across the country, it also further exacerbates the current crisis of being stuck in a limbo state, and not having many options other than a temporary status.

Therefore in this blog, we will review some of the possibilities, as well as obstacles, for TPS holders and how to maneuver through the immigration system if one is interested in applying for permanent residency. 


There are usually two possibilities for immigrants who would like to apply for a green card in the United States:

1.     An employment based offer with a U.S. company. The individual in question needs to have an approved petition from the USCIS on behalf of a U.S. based employer. From here, the individual can also simultaneously file for an adjustment of status.

2.     Family based decision. The individual in question needs to have a U.S. citizen family member who is willing to petition on their behalf. This includes marriage based green card procedures as well as fiancé (K-1) visas.

The main issue that TPS holders face is that they cannot file for an adjustment of status because of the “admission” criteria that is highly apparent in U.S. immigration law. Essentially, these individuals will be considered inadmissible every time they attempt to apply for a green card. The Supreme Court has upheld this ruling in the past fiscal year.

Applying for Advanced Parole

Nolo, a legal encyclopedia, explores one option that could be viable for some TPS residents who are in the current limbo phase in the United States. This would be to apply for “advance parole”.[2] According to the USCIS, advance parole is a travel document issued by the USCIS, through the filing of I-512, that allows certain non-citizens inside the United States to depart and seek to reenter the country after temporary travel abroad.[3] Once safely returned to the United States, that individual would then be considered a “lawful admission” and would get past the problem so many TPS holders have.

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) notes that this process can be very useful for immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for years under TPS, and while residing have had children who have become U.S. citizens by birth. Once such children reach the age of 21, they can finally file an alien petition on behalf of their parents to get the adjustment of status process started.[4]

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H-1B Visa

H-1B Visa

H-1B visa is used by businesses and organizations in the United States to employ foreign nationals with the preferred qualifications, knowledge, and expertise in a role.

I-485 Adjustment of Status

I-485 Adjustment of Status

Submit a form I-485 application to apply for lawful permanent resident status.

National Interest Waiver (NIW)

National Interest Waiver (NIW)

An applicant must either hold an advanced degree or have an exceptional ability in their field that would substantially benefit the U.S. to be qualified.