If you are Venezuelan, you may know of the U.S. government’s recent decision to allow you to apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). You may wonder how this affects your ability to seek lawful permanent residence. Or a green card, as many call it.
The answer is still unclear. Whether you can seek a TPS and later seek a green card depends on several factors.
Only certain people can apply for a green card
Not everyone has the right to apply for permanent residency. You can only apply if you meet specific conditions. These include applying as a family member of a U.S. citizen, through your job, as a refugee or asylum seeker. If you do not fit into one of the qualifying categories, whether you have a TPS or not is irrelevant.
Let’s say you do meet the conditions to apply for permanent residency. The immigration authorities will look at how you entered the country. If you entered through an illegal method, you usually need to leave the country before applying for a green card. If you seek a TPS, you may well have entered the country in an illegal manner, which is why you need the TPS — to prevent the authorities from deporting you.
So the question is: once you gain a TPS that does qualify as a legal way to “enter” the country? Six U.S. Courts of Appeal have ruled on this problem. Three decided that it does, and three decided it does not. For the moment, the issue remains unresolved.
Immigration rules and regulations are often unclear, and it is best to seek legal help to understand your situation. If you get it wrong, you put your future at risk.