Temporary Protected Status (TPS) continues to expire for many countries. However, many TPS holders still have options to remain in the United States. One of the most popular immigration options is to obtain lawful permanent resident status, aka to get a green card.
There are a variety of ways to obtain a green card, but this post will focus on getting a green card through family. In order to obtain a green card through family immigration, a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident must petition for a relative (the beneficiary). There are only certain family members who can petition for their relatives to obtain a green card.
If you are a U.S. citizen, you can only petition for the following relatives:
- Husband or Wife
- Brothers or Sisters
- Parents (if you are 21 years of age or older)
If the beneficiary of a U.S. citizen’s petition is a husband, wife, parent, or an unmarried child under the age of 21, that beneficiary qualifies as an immediate relative. Immediate relatives get special treatment, such as not having to wait as long for a green card.
If you are a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR), you can only petition for the following relatives:
- Husband or Wife
- Unmarried children
It is important to know that spouses and unmarried children of LPRs are notconsidered to be immediate relatives.
There are two ways in which to go through the green card process:
- Consular Processing
- Adjustment of Status
Consular processing requires applying for a green card outside of the United States.
Adjustment of Status is the process of applying for a green card from inside of the United States. Only beneficiaries who are immediate relatives can apply to adjust their status. All others must go through consular processing in order to get a green card.
In order to go through adjustment of status, you must meet the following criteria:
- You must be an immediate relative;
- You must have been inspected and admitted, or paroled into the United States; and
- You must be admissible to the United States
Many TPS holders had entered the United States with authorization, such as a tourist visa, before obtaining TPS, but some TPS holders entered the United States without authorization (aka without papers) before obtaining TPS. Those TPS holders that did not have authorization to come to the United States (i.e. they were not inspected and admitted or paroled into the U.S.) are ineligible for adjustment of status unless they successful traveled on advance parole, or they live in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, or Washington.
Here are some common scenarios involving TPS holders who wish to obtain a green card:
- Immediate Relative beneficiary who was inspected and admitted or paroled before getting TPS: A U.S. citizen may petition for a green card for this immediate relative.
- Immediate Relative beneficiary who was not inspected and admitted or paroled before getting TPS: A U.S. citizen may not petition for a green card for this immediate relative unless they live in one of the states mentioned above, or the immediate relative successful traveled on advance parole prior to the green card petition.
- Non-Immediate Relative beneficiary of a U.S. citizen who was inspected and admitted or paroled before getting TPS: A U.S. citizen may be able to petition for this non-immediate relative, however, s/he would have to go through consular processing. The U.S. citizen petitioner and non-immediate relative beneficiary should speak to an immigration lawyer first to determine whether the non-immediate relative would be subject to the unlawful presence bars, which could keep him or her out of the United States for 3 or 10 years.
- Qualifying Relative beneficiary of a Lawful Permanent Resident who was inspected and admitted or paroled: A Lawful Permanent Resident may petition for his or her qualifying relative to obtain a green card, however, s/he would have to go through consular processing. The LPR petitioner and qualifying relative beneficiary should speak to an immigration lawyer first to determine whether the qualifying relative would be subject to the unlawful presence bars, which could keep him or her out of the United States for 3 to 10 years.
Before doing anything regarding your immigration status, you should speak to an immigration lawyer to determine whether a particular course of action is right for you.
If you have specific questions about your status and immigration options, please give us a call.