In TPS Case, the Supreme Court Sides with the Government

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Jose Santos Sanchez et al. v. Alejandro Mayorkas et al, that individuals granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) who originally entered the United States unlawfully could not apply for a green card.

The unanimous ruling finds that being granted TPS does not qualify as admission into the U.S. and does not meet the requirements for admission based on the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

“A grant of TPS does not cure a foreign national’s entry without inspection or constitute an inspection and admission of the foreign national,” wrote Justice Kagan.

The petitioner, Sanchez, was not lawfully admitted to the United States. As Justice Kagan writes, “Section 1255 generally requires a lawful admission before a person can obtain LPR status… his [Sanchez’s] TPS does not alter that fact. He, therefore, cannot become a permanent resident of this country.”

Justice Kagan referred to pending legislation in Congress, which would deem TPS recipients to have nonimmigrant status and a lawful admission.


As of March 11, 2021, approximately 320,000 foreign nationals from 10 countries are living in the United States protected by TPS benefits. Since then, the Department of Homeland Security designated TPS status for Haiti and Burma. There are now 12 countries that qualify — Burma, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen.

The Dream and Promise Act, before Congress now, would grant a pathway to lawful permanent residence for TPS holders within three years of the bill’s passage.