A recent decision by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has cleared the pathway for thousands of individuals granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to apply for permanent residency, provided that they apply based upon an approved visa petition that is independent of their TPS status. The decision, which was issued on June 4, 2013, showed an almost angry Court reprimanding the government for opposing the approval of permanent residency "for the sake of opposition."
In the case, a Honduran citizen (Mr. Saady Suazo), who was granted TPS in 1999, applied for permanent residency based upon his marriage to his US citizen spouse. Based upon this marriage, Mr. Suazo applied for permanent residency, only to be denied by USCIS. USCIS argued that despite his grant of TPS since 1999 and his proof of good moral character, Mr. Suazo had never been "admitted, inspected or paroled" into the United States. The Court found that USCIS had been "consistently wrong" in denying other similar applications to adjust status and that denying him permanent residency in favor of the process of requiring him to leave the United States would be a "waste of energy, time, government resources, and will have negative effects on his family - US citizens."
The implications of this decision are huge. Although the 6th Circuit Court is not binding in North and South Carolina (the 4th Circuit takes precedent in these states), the decision is certainly persuasive. Moreover, given the language used by the Court, particularly in reprimanding the government, this may cause other courts to examine whether denying adjustment of status benefits to TPS approved individuals is still good law. People can also consider relocating to areas covered by the 6th Circuit law, which will provide them the benefit of this new decision. Although a drastic step, this is a decision of major importance, which will have a lasting impact upon individuals currently in TPS status.