Facts of the Case
Petitioners Jose Sanchez and his wife were citizens of El Salvador who entered the United States without inspection or admission in 1997 and again in 1998. Following a series of earthquakes in El Salvador in 2001, they applied for and received temporary protected status (TPS) and were subsequently permitted to remain in the United States due to periodic extensions of TPS eligibility for El Salvadoran nationals by the Attorney General.
In 2014, Sanchez and his wife applied to become lawful permanent residents under 8 U.S.C. § 1255. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) denied their applications, finding that Sanchez was “statutorily ineligible” for adjustment of status because he had not been admitted into the United States. They challenged the denial in federal district court, and the district court granted their motion for summary judgment, holding a grant of TPS meets § 1255(a)’s requirement that an alien must be “inspected and admitted or paroled” to be eligible for adjustment of status. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed, finding no support in the text, context, structure, or purpose of the statutes for the claim that a grant of TPS may serve as an admission for those who entered the United States illegally.
Does the conferral of Temporary Protected Status under 8 U.S.C. § 1254a constitute an “admission” into the United States under 8 U.S.C. § 1255?
The conferral of Temporary Protected Status under 8 U.S.C. § 1254a does not constitute an “admission” into the United States under 8 U.S.C. § 1255, so recipients of such status are not eligible to become lawful permanent residents. Justice Elena Kagan authored the unanimous opinion of the Court.
Section 1255 provides a way for a “nonimmigrant”—that is, a foreign national who is lawfully present in the United States for a designated, temporary basis—to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR). One requirement for eligibility is an “admission” into the country, and “admission” is defined as “the lawful entry of the alien into the United States after inspection and authorization by an immigration officer.”
Entering the country via a provision of humanitarian law that bypasses the inspection and authorization procedure does not meet the requirement for “admission,” so those who are present in the country by that means are not eligible to become lawful permanent residents.
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