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Palm Beach County Immigration Attorney > Blog > Immigration > Court Says Those Who Enter The US Illegally, Can’t Get Citizenship

Court Says Those Who Enter The US Illegally, Can’t Get Citizenship


The Supreme Court made it a little harder for certain immigrants to get Green Cards. The saddest part is, they denied that right to immigrants entering the country under the worst of conditions—fleeing hardship, disaster or oppression.

TPS Status and Citizenship

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that immigrants who fled to America under what is known as Temporary protected Status (TPS) cannot apply for a Green Card, a significant step in becoming a United States citizen.

The case was brought by a couple that fled their home country, and came to America illegally. They were not inspected when they originally entered the country. However, they were given TPS, a designation given to certain countries that have sustained a temporary condition that makes it unsafe for people to return to their home country. For example, temporary civil unrest, or a major catastrophe like an earthquake, can lead to a country being put on the TPS list.

The list of countries on the list changes from time to time, as TPS designations are reviewed and either cancelled or renewed.

Couple has Application Denied

While in the country under TPS status, the couple applied for a Green Card to become permanent residents. They were denied, as the law requires an immigrant to have entered the country legally to qualify, and their home country was not on the TPS list when the immigrant originally entered America.

They took their case to the Supreme Court to appeal the denial of their application. They argued that once their home country was granted TPS, that they should be considered in the United States legally, and thus, eligible for full citizenship.

But the U.S. Supreme Court disagreed, noting that TPS status is not “a ticket of admission,” and does not affect the “disqualifying event” of entering America illegally.

The Court noted that the TPS program gives immigrants nonimmigrant status—in other words, they can remain. It does not, however, make someone who entered the country illegally, suddenly legal.

Immigrants cannot use what is known as an “adjustment of status” to “fix” the fact that they entered America illegally, at least, not without first leaving the country and applying. Of course, that tends to be a dangerous and time consuming route for many immigrants to take.

The Court did give some good news. One justice wrote that if someone entered the country under the TPS program legally, but overstayed their visa, that they could still be eligible for citizenship, as they originally entered the country legally, which is all the law requires.

Is a Law Change Coming?

A bill has actually passed the House of Representatives, which would allow anybody in the country on TPS status, to be eligible for citizenship. But in today’s immigrant environment, it is unlikely that the bill will pass the Senate.

We can help you in your immigration law case. Contact the Palm Beach County immigration attorneys at Devore Law Group today with any questions that you may have about your status in the country.




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