How To Get a Green Card If You Have TPS (Temporary Protected Status)?

The Temporary Protected Status (TPS) comes with many benefits for immigrants. For starters, one of the most notable benefits of TPS is that it allows you to work in the U.S. and protects you from deportation. However, this status isn’t permanent; you’ll be required to re-register occasionally and only if your home country’s TPS designation is still valid. The good news is that you can adjust your TPS status, obtain a green card, and get permanent immigration status and benefits.

We’ve addressed the most important things you need to know about adjusting TPS to a green card. 

How To Go From TPS Holders to Lawful Permanent Residence?

When your country’s TPS designation ends, it means that the U.S. government has determined that the country is safe for you to return to. For this reason, you’ll no longer be eligible for TPS benefits, and you may need to return to your home country or revert to your prior immigration status. Unfortunately, these options may take you many steps back in your immigration process, especially if you intend to permanently live and work in the U.S.

On the bright side, though, you don’t have to wait until your TPS expires to adjust your status to a green card. This is because TPS doesn’t affect your ability to apply for another immigration benefit. Therefore, you can adjust your TPS status and become a Lawful Permanent Resident under certain circumstances. 

Here are some of the options for adjusting TPS to a green card:

How To Go From TPS to Green Card Through Marriage?

If you marry a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident, you may be eligible for a marriage-based green card. In this case, your spouse becomes your petitioner and must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. 

Next, you must wait for an immigrant visa number to be able to file the green card application Form I-485. The visa number will be readily available if you’re married to a U.S. citizen. However, if you’re married to a Lawful Permanent Resident, you’ll have to wait a little longer for a visa number.

Lastly, you must pay the mandatory fees and include all the supporting documents to prove that your marriage is genuine and not intended for obtaining permanent resident status. 

The USCIS will review your application to determine whether you’re eligible for a green card. They’ll also invite you for a biometrics appointment to collect your fingerprints and photos to run a background check on you. Additionally, the USCIS will invite you for a green card interview to further determine your eligibility.

If your Permanent Resident Card application is approved, you’ll receive a green card through the mail. 

How To Go From TPS to Family-Based Green Card?

Some TPS holders may be eligible for a green card if they are qualifying family members of U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents. These include:

  • Spouses of US citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents
  • Children of US citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents
  • Parents of a US citizen who is at least 21 years old
  • Siblings of a US citizen who is at least 21 years old

In this case, the U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident must initiate the green card application process by filing Form I-130 with the USCIS. Once the petition is approved, the TPS holder files form I-485 when a visa number becomes available. Depending on the TPS holder’s family preference category, this may take several months and sometimes years.

Read More | How Many Years To Become U.S. Citizen After Permanent Resident Card

Additionally, the TPS holder can apply for an Employment Authorization Document by concurrently filing Form I-765 with their green card application. So even though their TPS status may expire, they may continue working in the US while waiting for a green card. 

How To Go From TPS to Green Card Through Employment?

A TPS holder may also find an employer who is willing to sponsor them for an employment green card. However, the employer must meet specific requirements to be an eligible sponsor for the TPS holder. They must: 

  • Be based in the U.S.
  • Obtain an approved PERM labor certification from the Department of Labor
  • Demonstrate that they couldn’t find any U.S. worker with the qualifications for the job offered to the foreign employee
  • Offer a full-time job to the employee
  • Be willing to pay the employee the same wages as a US worker
  • Be ready to sponsor the employee and pay all the costs involved

After meeting these requirements, the employer must file Form I-140, Immigration Petition for Alien Worker with the USCIS to petition for the foreign worker. Once approved, the employee may apply for Adjustment of Status by filing Form I-485 , Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status to change their TPS status to Lawful Permanent Residence status. 

What Is The Definition of Temporary Protected Status Definition and Eligibility?

The Temporary Protected Status is an immigration benefit granted to immigrants from TPS-designated countries. This status protects its beneficiaries from deportation and allows them to live and work in the U.S. Additionally, TPS holders can apply for an advance parole document if they wish to travel outside the United States without the risk of abandoning their status. 

The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a country for TPS if it meets certain temporary conditions that make it unsafe. Generally, these conditions include:

  • Ongoing armed conflicts, such as a civil war
  • Environmental disasters, such as earthquakes
  • Extraordinary and temporary condition that compromises an immigrant’s safety and security

At the time of writing, there are 16 TPS-designated countries. These include Afghanistan, Burma (Myanmar), Cameroon, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Yemen.

To be eligible for TPS, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a citizen or habitually stateless resident of a country granted TPS status 
  • Have a continuous physical presence in the U.S. since a country’s TPS designation
  • Have continuous residence status in the U.S. since the date the Secretary of Homeland Security specifies for your country 
  • Be admissible to the U.S.

If you meet these requirements, you may apply for TPS by following these steps:

The USCIS will review your application and determine whether to accept or deny your request for TPS. If your application is successful, you’ll receive an approval notice, usually via mail, stating the length of your TPS status. Typically, it may be valid for six, 12, or 18 months. However, the Secretary of Homeland Security may end or extend your country’s TPS designation at least 60 days before its expiry. In that case, you must re-register to extend your TPS status.

What’s The Differences Between TPS and Green Card Status?

Although TPS and green cards allow you to live and work in the U.S., these immigration statuses differ. For example, TPS is a temporary status with a possibility of an extension. On the other hand, a green card is a permanent status that allows an immigrant to live and work in the U.S. permanently. 

Additionally, a TPS holder’s work authorization often lasts as long as their TPS is valid. Once it expires, they may not be eligible to work in the U.S. On the contrary, a green card holder doesn’t need an EAD to work in the U.S.

TPS holders must obtain a travel document to travel abroad to avoid jeopardizing their TPS status. That’s not the case with green card holders; they can leave and re-enter the United States without a travel document or restrictions at the port of entry.

Green card holders are also eligible for many more immigration benefits than TPS holders. Just to give you some perspective, green card holders can get federal student aid, social security benefits, and Medicare. Unfortunately, these benefits are out of reach for TPS holders.

Lastly, a green card is a direct path to U.S. citizenship, while TPS isn’t. As a result, TPS holders may have to explore other immigration statuses to become permanent residents and eventually obtain US citizenship.

Who Can Adjust Status From TPS to Green Card?

Although TPS isn’t a direct pathway to a green card, its TPS beneficiaries may be eligible to apply for a green card through other means. However, not all TPS holders can adjust their status to a green card. Some of them may be ineligible due to:

  • Committing certain crimes that make them inadmissible to the U.S.
  • Failing to maintain their TPS status
  • Failing to meet all eligibility requirements of the green card category

Adjusting TPS to a green card can be a challenging process. For this reason, it’s best to consult an experienced immigration lawyer about the green card process because they are familiar with immigration law and how it could apply to your unique situation. 

Specifically, the immigration attorney will review your case and determine your options for becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident of the U.S.


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