Class Action Suit Challenges Government’s Denial of TPS Holders’ Green Cards

For Immediate Release

Feb. 22, 2018


Matt Adams, NWIRP: 206-957-8611,


Washington, D.C.- Today, the American Immigration Council, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and several Temporary Protected Status holders filed a class action lawsuit against officials at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and U.S. Department of Homeland Security in a federal district court in New York. They are challenging the government’s unlawful practice of denying TPS holders lawful permanent resident status (green cards) based on a misinterpretation of the law.


The plaintiffs allege that Congress intended a grant of TPS to be an “inspection and admission”-one of the requirements for gaining lawful permanent resident status. In violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act, USCIS denies the green card applications of TPS holders who first entered the United States without going through an inspection process at a port of entry, ignoring the fact that they subsequently were inspected and admitted when they were granted TPS.


“The Trump administration’s recent decisions to end TPS for citizens of several countries leaves tens of thousands of longstanding members of their communities at risk of deportation when their status expires in the coming months,” said Mary Kenney, senior staff attorney at the American Immigration Council. “Many individuals about to lose their TPS would be able to become lawful permanent residents in the United States were it not for DHS’s ongoing misinterpretation of the law. If this lawsuit is successful, it would provide a way for some of those individuals to continue their lives in the United States.”


The lawsuit documents the cases of individuals who have maintained TPS for years-many for close to two decades-who now seek to become lawful permanent residents through their U.S. citizen spouses, adult children, parents, or employers, but whose adjustment applications for permanent residence have been denied because USCIS does not recognize that they have been “inspected and admitted.”
“Two federal courts-the Sixth and the Ninth Circuits-have ordered USCIS to correctly apply the law. TPS holders living within the dozen states under the jurisdiction of these two courts are able to gain permanent status. TPS holders living anywhere else in the country are victims of USCIS’s unlawful policy and suffer great hardships. It is especially egregious that Secretary Nielson has ordered the termination of TPS status for hundreds of thousands of longtime lawful residents, while at the same time refusing to follow the law in allowing them to apply for permanent residence,” said Matt Adams, legal director of NWIRP.


Today’s lawsuit seeks to expand the decisions of the Ninth and Sixth Circuits-which found that TPS holders are “inspected and admitted” for purposes of applying for permanent residence while remaining in the United States-to TPS holders nationwide. The lawsuit seeks to represent, “[a]ll individuals with TPS who reside within the geographic boundaries of the Courts of Appeals for the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Seventh, Eighth, and Tenth Circuits; whose initial entries into the United States were without inspection; who have applied or will apply for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence with USCIS; and whose adjustment applications have been or will be denied on the basis of USCIS’s policy that TPS does not constitute an admission for purposes of adjusting status.”


The lawsuit is asking that the court declare USCIS’s policy unlawful and order it to stop applying the policy; to find that TPS holders have been “inspected and admitted” for the purposes of their permanent residence applications; and to order USCIS to reopen class members’ applications that were denied and allow those TPS holders the opportunity to have their applications reconsidered with the law properly applied.

Read the complaint here