(703) 369-4738

5
Oct
2022

The TPS Program and Good News Regarding the USCIS Recission of Matter of Z-R-Z-C- as an Adopted Decision

Written By Meghan M. Phillips, Esq.[1]

On July 1, 2022, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) released a memorandum that provides welcome news for Temporary Protective Status (TPS) holders: USCIS has announced its rescission of the decision of Matter of Z-R-Z-C- as an adopted decision.[2]  What is this decision, and why is its recession such good news for those with TPS? To understand this, first, one must understand the TPS program and what the Matter of Z-R-Z-C- decision meant for TPS holders.

What is TPS, and Who is Eligible?

            TPS, as the name suggests, provides a temporary legal status for noncitizens in the United States from certain designated countries affected by armed conflict, natural disasters, or other extraordinary conditions.[3] As of August 1, 2022, the following countries have current TPS designations: Afghanistan, Burma (Myanmar), Cameroon, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Yemen.[4] TPS allows TPS holders to live and work in the United States for the duration of the designation of their country for TPS and to avoid immigration detention and deportation.[5] The duration of a designation of a country is usually between 6 or 18 months but could be extended for many years.[6]  

            To be eligible for TPS, a person must meet 4 requirements and not have any of the 6 factors that disqualify a person for TPS. The 4 requirements are: (1) Nationality – you must be a national of a country designated for TPS or a person without the nationality but habitually resided in the designated country; (2) Filing Date – you must file your TPS application during the open initial registration or re-registration period for your country of nationality, or meet the requirements for late initial filing during any extension of the TPS designation (3) Continuous U.S. Physical presence – you must have been continuously physically present in the United States since the date specified for your country with the exception for brief, casual and innocent departures from the United States; and (4) Continuous U.S. Residence – you have continuously maintained a residence in the U.S. since the date specified for your country, again, with the exception for brief, casual, and innocent departures from the United States.[7]

The 6 factors that can disqualify a person from TPS are: (1) felony convictions or two or more misdemeanor convictions in the United States; (2) inadmissibility under U.S. immigration laws, including for non-waivable and security-related grounds; (3) being subject to any of the mandatory bars to asylum, such as participating in the persecution of another individual or engaging in or inciting terrorist activity; (4) failing to meet the continuous physical presence and continuous residence in the United States requirements; (5) failing to meet initial or late initial TPS registration requirements; and (6) failing to re-register for TPS without good cause.[8]

How did Matter of Z-R-Z-C- Affect TPS Holders?

TPS does not provide its beneficiaries with a path to lawful permanent residence (also sometimes called having a green card) or citizenship because, as the name suggests, the status is only intended to be temporary.[9] However, a TPS holder who later becomes eligible for permanent residency, for example, through the petition of a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident (LPR) relative and who is otherwise eligible for adjustment of status, can apply to become an LPR.[10] A person who entered the United States without inspection is usually not eligible to apply to become an LPR.[11] However, TPS holders who have traveled with prior authorization upon returning to the United States have been inspected and paroled into the United States. Before Matter of Z-R-Z-C- was adopted as a precedential decision by USCIS, TPS holders who had traveled with advanced parole, even if they had originally entered the United States without inspection, were considered by USCIS to have met the requirement to be admitted and inspected.  In other words, TPS holders who had traveled with advanced permission “cured” their original unlawful entry and were eligible to adjust their status if they otherwise met all of the other requirements. 

Matter of Z-R-Z-C-, which was adopted on August 20, 2020, marked USCIS’s departure from this position and held that being “inspected and admitted” after TPS-authorized travel does not constitute being inspected and admitted for purposes of adjustment of status under INA 245(a).[12] This decision essentially declared that TPS beneficiaries are admitted in the “same immigration status the alien had at the time of departure.”[13] As this was such a significant policy change, USCIS decided it would grandfather those TPS holders who had traveled and returned on advanced parole prior to the decision date, August 20, 2020.[14] This meant that “newer” TPS holders, such as those from the recently designated countries of Afghanistan and Ukraine or those who had never before traveled with advance parole, could no longer “cure” their original entry without inspection.

What does the Recission of Matter of Z-R-Z-C- Mean for those with TPS Going Forward?

  On July 1, 2022, USCIS decided to rescind its adoption of Matter of Z-R-Z-C- as a precedent decision.[15] Going forward, this means that TPS holders can continue to apply for advanced travel permission to leave and return to the United States. However, now that Matter of Z-R-Z-C- has been rescinded, they are not going to return to the United States in the same status that they left.  Instead, traveling with advance permission and then re-entering after being inspected and admitted by U.S. immigration officials will satisfy the requirement of being lawfully inspected and admitted needed for an adjustment of status application. This is welcome news for those TPS holders who had not traveled with authorization prior to August 20, 2020, and who originally entered without inspection because it means they are now able to “cure” their original unlawful entries.

However, the recession also may adversely affect those who already have a removal order.[16] USCIS also cautions those TPS holders who have traveled with advanced permission that USCIS might not have jurisdiction over their applications for adjustment of status if that person has been in removal proceedings (has had an immigration court case).[17] For those in this situation, these applicants will have to file their adjustment of status application with the immigration court or terminate their removal proceedings so they can file their applications with USCIS.[18] These legal determinations are highly technical; therefore, please seek legal advice before traveling to avoid any inadmissibility issues or before filing your application for adjustment of status. Licensed legal counsel can help you check your immigration records and research the best legal strategy for your case. 

Conclusion

The TPS program is an important benefit for those in the United States from countries that have experienced terrible armed conflict and natural disasters but proving your eligibility and ensuring that you meet USCS’s precise deadlines is not easy on your own, especially if USCIS requests additional information or denies your application. Having an attorney help you ensure you meet the requirements and all deadlines, as well as help you navigate through the TPS travel authorization application process, can be extremely helpful. Additionally, determining whether you have a prior removal order, are in removal proceedings, or whether traveling could risk you ineligible for legal permanent residency are important legal determinations for which you should seek legal advice. Before seeking legal help, however, please do your research and pick a licensed and experienced immigration lawyer or representative for your case.

At VFN Immigrants First, we have four licensed immigration attorneys who are admitted to practice both by state bars and EOIR. We would be happy to help you find the best legal strategy to meet your immigration goals and help you determine if the recession of Matter of Z-R-Z-C-, will allow you to travel with advance permission and if you are eligible to adjust your status to that of a lawful permanent resident now, or in the future.  

Please give us a call at 703-335-2009, visit our website, www.immigrantsfirst.com, email: mphillips@vfnlaw.com, or stop by our office at 9200 Church Street, Suite 203, in Manassas, Virginia, to learn more or make an appointment for a consultation.


[1] Meghan M. Phillips, Esq., is an associate immigration lawyer with the Immigration Law Practice Group, Immigrants First, at Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian, PC. She primarily handles family and humanitarian immigration, Special Immigrant Juvenile custody, and removal defense and appeal cases. She is a member of the Virginia State Bar and has been admitted to practice before the U.S. immigration courts (EOIR), the Eastern District of Virginia Court, and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

[2] USCIS Policy Memorandum: Rescission of Matter of Z-R-Z-C- as an Adopted Decision; agency interpretation of authorized travel by TPS beneficiaries, PM-602-0188, July 1, 2022, available at: https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/memos/PM-602-0188-RescissionofMatterofZ-R-Z-C-.pdf.

[3] See USCIS Website, Temporary Protected Status, available at: https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/temporary-protected-status.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] American Immigration Council, Temporary Protected Status: An Overview, June 29, 2022, available at: https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/temporary-protected-status-overview#:~:text=A%20TPS%20designation%20can%20be,conditions%20in%20the%20foreign%20country.

[7] See USCIS Website, Temporary Protected Status, available at: https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/temporary-protected-status.

[8] Id.

[9] American Immigration Council, Temporary Protected Status: An Overview, June 29, 2022, available at: https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/temporary-protected-status-overview#:~:text=A%20TPS%20designation%20can%20be,conditions%20in%20the%20foreign%20country.

[10] Id.

[11] See INA 245(a). 

[12] USCIS Policy Memorandum: Rescission of Matter of Z-R-Z-C- as an Adopted Decision; agency interpretation of authorized travel by TPS beneficiaries, PM-602-0188, July 1, 2022, available at: https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/memos/PM-602-0188-RescissionofMatterofZ-R-Z-C-.pdf.

[13] Id.

[14] Id.

[15] Id.; see also, Duarte v. Mayorkas, 27 F.4th 1044 (5th Cir. 2022).

[16] USCIS Policy Memorandum: Rescission of Matter of Z-R-Z-C- as an Adopted Decision; agency interpretation of authorized travel by TPS beneficiaries, PM-602-0188, July 1, 2022, available at: https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/memos/PM-602-0188-RescissionofMatterofZ-R-Z-C-.pdf.

[17] Id.

[18] Id.


This blog post is not intended to provide legal advice or substitute for the advice of legal counsel with respect to specific facts and situations. See disclaimer