People with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) have permission from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to remain in the United States temporarily while their home countries are unsafe for them to return to for different reasons. If you are in the U.S. and have TPS, you may be able to get a green card and be on the path to U.S. citizenship. This article explains how to adjust your status from TPS to lawful permanent residence.
Written by Jonathan Petts.
Updated July 17, 2022
After spending some time in the United States, certain TPS recipients may become eligible for U.S. green cards, depending on their circumstances. We’ve outlined the specific eligibility categories in the next section below. If you’re eligible and want permanent residency in the United States, you should apply for a green card. With a green card, you’ll gain access to several immigration benefits. You’ll be able to live and work freely in the United States. You can also build a life, career, or family without worrying about deportation.
With TPS, you can temporarily remain in the United States. However, the U.S. government regularly reviews the TPS designated countries. If they decide that your home country should be safe to return to, your status will expire.
The U.S. government announces changes to TPS designations in the Federal Register. Currently, the designated countries are Afghanistan, Burma (Myanmar), Cameroon, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Yemen.
If you’re eligible, you should apply for a U.S. green card as soon as possible. The U.S. government will welcome you as a lawful permanent resident if approved. After a few years with a green card, you can also become eligible for U.S. citizenship.
Who Can Adjust Status From TPS to Green Card?
If you’d like to settle permanently in the United States with your partner or accept a U.S. employment offer, you should apply for a green card. If you fear persecution in your home country, you can also apply for a green card after receiving asylum status.
You may be eligible for permanent resident status if you become the immediate family member of a U.S. citizen or green card holder while living in the United States under the TPS program. For example, if you fall in love with and marry a U.S. citizen or green card holder during your time here, you would become eligible for a marriage-based green card.
You can also become eligible for a green card through employment. You may apply while holding TPS if you qualify for a U.S. employment-based green card. You’ll need a U.S.-based employment offer and an employer willing to sponsor your application. Alternatively, you can self-petition for EB-1 status, the “alien of extraordinary ability” category.
Lastly, TPS holders are eligible to seek asylee status simultaneously. Note that TPS and asylee status are not the same. They are separate protected categories. If granted asylum, you’ll be able to apply for a green card after one year.
What Is the Adjustment of Status Process From TPS to Green Card?
Your adjustment of status (AOS) process will slightly vary depending on your green card category. Generally, the AOS process requires foreign nationals to file several forms and provide supporting documents. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will ask your spouse or employer to sponsor your green card application.
Keep in mind that USCIS only considers genuine marriages as the basis for marriage green cards. If you do not have a genuine relationship with your partner, USCIS will deny your application. You’ll need to prove to them that your marriage is real and took place with good intentions.
Green Card Through a U.S. Citizen Spouse
To apply through a U.S. citizen spouse, you and your spouse must file Form I-130 and Form I-485. Typically, applicants file these forms together at the same time. Form I-130 is the Petition for Alien Relative. Your spouse will complete and sign this form for you. By completing this form, your spouse officially sponsors your green card application. Form I-485 is the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. You, as the applicant, will need to complete and sign Form I-485.
USCIS typically grants approval within 10 to 13 months if all goes well.
Green Card Through a U.S. Green Card Holder Spouse
Your application process will differ if your spouse is a U.S. green card holder. Those with U.S. green card holder spouses usually face longer waiting times. To apply, your spouse must first file Form I-130 for you. Once USCIS approves this form, you’ll wait to receive a visa number. As soon as your visa number becomes available, you may proceed with the application process.
In some cases, your visa number might not be available until after your TPS expires, so you’ll likely need to leave the United States before your status expires. You can only stay in the United States if you are eligible for another temporary nonimmigrant status. You can’t adjust your status abroad, but you can apply for a green card through consular processing. The consular process works differently from AOS. Overseas, you’ll need to apply for your green card through your local U.S. embassy or consulate. If approved in this process, you’ll typically receive your green card 23 to 32 months after filing Form I-130.
If your TPS doesn’t expire before a visa number becomes available, you can continue with AOS. Once your visa number becomes available, you can file Form I-485. If approved in this process, you’ll typically receive your green card 29 to 38 months after filing Form I-130.
Green Card Through an Employer
If you’re eligible for an employment green card, your employer must file Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. If USCIS approves your Form I-140 and your visa number becomes available, you should then file Form I-485 to begin the AOS process.
Green Card Through Asylum
If you don’t qualify for a marriage or employment green card, you may still be eligible for an asylum-based green card. If USCIS approves you for asylee status, you can apply for a green card after one year of holding that status. Review our detailed guide for more specific information on the asylum green card process.
Supporting Documents for Marriage and Employment Green Cards
When filing Forms I-130, I-140, or I-485, you must provide supporting documents. Be prepared to include the following for Form I-130:
Proof of your spouse’s U.S. citizenship or green card status. This may include their birth certificate, U.S. passport, U.S. green card, naturalization certificate, or a consular report of birth abroad.
Proof of your marriage. This includes your marriage certificate. If possible, you should also include any joint bank account statements, joint leases, or photos of you and your spouse.
Proof that you have ended any previous marriages. If you have ever married someone else before, you’ll need to prove that that marriage is not legally valid. In this case, you should include divorce records, your deceased spouse’s death certificate, or annulment certificates.
For Form I-140, your employer should include the following:
Your I-94 card
A labor certification application form certified by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)
Evidence of your educational or other credential qualifications for the job
Proof that your employer can pay you the DOL-approved wage from your priority date until you become a permanent resident
Other category-specific documents listed on USCIS.gov
You should submit the following documents for Form I-485:
Proof of your nationality. This may include your birth certificate or passport from your home country.
Proof that you legally entered the United States. This will include any U.S. visas and your I-94 travel record.
Any immigration law violation or law enforcement records, if applicable. If you have a criminal history or a record of serious immigration violations, you may want to get legal advice from an immigration attorney before applying.
Form I-130 has a filing fee of $535. Form I-140 has a filing fee of $700. The Form I-485 filing fee varies based on age. Check out USCIS’s Fee Calculator to estimate your fees.
If your spouse becomes a U.S. citizen while you’re waiting for a visa number, your visa number will become immediately available. You can follow the faster process for spouses of U.S. citizens instead.
While USCIS considers your Form I-485, you should not travel outside the United States. You may only travel during this time if you have a travel permit, also known as Advance Parole. If you travel abroad without a permit, USCIS will assume you have abandoned your application.
Can You Adjust Your Status With TPS if You Entered the U.S. Without Inspection?
If you entered the United States without going through Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at a port of entry, you typically aren’t eligible to adjust your immigration status to a green card.
However, certain exceptions exist for TPS beneficiaries. Some U.S. courts have ruled that even if you did not go through lawful inspection at the border, your status would count as a legal entry into the United States. These exceptions only apply if you live in the Sixth Circuit or Ninth Circuit jurisdictions. You should review the courts’ websites to check whether they cover your state. If they don’t, you may want to consider moving to one of these areas. Otherwise, you won’t be able to adjust your status from within the United States.