USCIS Revises Guidance on Travel Authorization for TPS Beneficiaries

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced the rescission of its adoption of Matter Z-R-Z-C- effective July 1, 2022. This decision will once again give Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders the opportunity to apply and be considered for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status after traveling abroad.

For nearly the past three decades prior to Matter Z-R-Z-C-, which was decided by the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) in August 20, 2020, immigration law permitted TPS holders to travel abroad for a short period of time with prior agency approval. Upon their lawful return to the U.S., the USCIS found them to be “inspected and admitted or paroled,” a requirement for gaining LPR status.

However, Matter Z-R-Z-C- held that a TPS beneficiary’s temporary travel abroad and lawful return based on an approved advance parole did not fulfill the requirement of being “inspected and admitted or paroled.” This meant that even after a lawful return and inspection, TPS holders who first entered the U.S. without inspection were deemed ineligible for green cards, thus severely limiting the options for a TPS recipient to adjust their status.

With this new rescission, the USCIS’ interpretation of the Miscellaneous and Technical Immigration and Naturalization of 1991 (MTINA) and related guidance has been updated as follows:

  • USCIS will no longer use the advance parole mechanism to authorize travel for TPS beneficiaries, but will instead provide a new TPS travel authorization document. This document will serve as evidence of the prior consent for travel contemplated in INA 244(f)(3) and service as evidence that the bearer may be inspected and admitted into TPS pursuant to MTINA if all other requirements are met.
  • TPS beneficiaries whom DHS has inspected and admitted into TPS under MTINA, subsequent to that inspection and admission, will have been “inspected and admitted” and are “present in the United States pursuant to a lawful admission,” including for purposes of adjustment of status under INA 245. This is true even if the TPS beneficiary was present without admission or parole when initially granted TPS.

In addition, USCIS announced the eligibility requirements for consideration under this guidance for past travel:

  • applicant must have obtained prior authorization to travel abroad temporarily on the basis of being a TPS beneficiary;
  • applicant’s TPS must not have been withdrawn or the designation for their foreign state (or part of a foreign state) was not terminated or did not expire during their travel;
  • applicant must have returned to the United States in accordance with the authorization to travel; and
  • upon return, the applicant must have been inspected by the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) or DHS at a designated port of entry and paroled or otherwise permitted to pass into the territorial boundaries of the United States in accordance with the TPS-based travel authorization.

This decision is effective immediately, as of July 1, 2022.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to and cannot substitute the advice of and representation from a competent immigration attorney.