U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently issued a policy memorandum adopting an Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) decision, Matter of Z-R-Z-C-. The decision holds that temporary protected status (TPS) beneficiaries who travel abroad using a Department of Homeland Security (DHS)-issued travel document generally will retain the same immigration status on their return that they had at the time of departure. Exceptions apply to those inadmissible under certain criminal or national security grounds or with immigrant or nonimmigrant visas they present for admission to the United States.

USCIS noted that such travel does not satisfy the “inspected and admitted or paroled” eligibility requirement for obtaining adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence, although USCIS said this decision does not affect TPS beneficiaries who adjusted status to lawful permanent residence under past practice and/or prior guidance or who have pending applications for adjustment of status. USCIS will only apply Matter of Z-R-Z-C- prospectively to TPS beneficiaries who departed and returned to the United States on or after August 20, 2020, the date of the AAO’s adopted decision.

A class action lawsuit has been filed against USCIS in the Southern District of Florida challenging the legality of Matter of Z-R-Z-C-.

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