Rescinding Matter of Z-R-Z-C & Temporary Protected Status

On 20 August 2020, the Administrative Appeals Office issued Matter of Z-R-Z-C. This decision decreased a temporary protected status beneficiary’s eligibility to apply for permanent resident status. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) adopted Matter of Z-R-Z-C as policy for USCIS officers.

On 1 July 2022, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) issued Policy Memorandum (PM-602-0188). In the Memorandum, DHS rescinded Matter of Z-R-Z-C (“Z-R-Z-C”) as an adopted decision and amended the USCIS Policy Manual. For temporary protected status (“TPS”) beneficiaries, rescinding Z-R-Z-C impacts the following:

  • authorization to depart the U.S. while in TPS status,
  • eligibility for permanent residency after completing authorized international travel, and
  • green card eligibility for TPS beneficiaries, who previously entered the U.S. without inspection by Customs and Border Protection.  

Authorization for International Travel

Regarding departure from the U.S. while in TPS status, DHS will create a new travel authorization card for TPS beneficiaries rather than advance parole.

Eligibility for INA § 245 Status Adjustment (“Green Card”)

Rescinding Z-R-Z-C changes a TPS beneficiary’s eligibility for adjustment using the I-485 Form (“green card application”). DHS expresses the change as follows: TPS beneficiaries whom DHS has inspected and admitted into TPS under MTINA, subsequent to that inspection and admission, will have been ‘inspected and admitted’ and are ‘present in the United States pursuant to a lawful admission,’ including for purposes of adjustment of status under INA 245. This is true even if the TPS beneficiary was present without admission or parole when initially granted TPS. See Policy Mem. (PM-602-0188) at 2 (emphasis added).

From a practical perspective, after a Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) officer admits a TPS beneficiary pursuant to TPS travel authorization, the beneficiary will satisfy the inspection and admission factor for I-485 purposes. However, satisfying the admission factor does not satisfy all the criteria to apply for a green card pursuant to INA § 245(a).   

After traveling internationally, a CBP officer admitting a TPS beneficiary into the U.S. does not satisfy all criteria to apply for permanent residency. INA § 245(a) also requires that TPS beneficiaries prove their eligibility to receive an immigrant visa. What does this mean? Eligibility for an immigrant visa means that USCIS can approve or previously approved an immigrant visa petition. The following forms qualify as immigrant visa petitions: I-129F and I-130 petitions, family-based I-360 petitions, special immigrant I-360 petitions, I-140 petitions, and investor-based I-526 petitions. Unlike other immigrant categories, diversity visa applicants may apply for INA § 245(a) adjustment without a petition filed and approved by USCIS.  

Previously Entering without Inspection, Admission, or Parole

As humanitarian protection, DHS approves TPS status for noncitizens even if CBP did not initially admit or parole them into the U.S. DHS’s recent policy change now authorizes TPS beneficiaries, who return pursuant to a valid TPS travel document, to apply for adjustment even if she originally entered the U.S. without inspection.

Although DHS’s recent policy change makes it easier for TPS beneficiaries to apply for a green card, INA § 245(c) provisions or inadmissibility bars may prohibit USCIS from approving an I-485 Form filed after a successful CBP admission. For example, TPS beneficiaries who previously violated their nonimmigrant status, worked without authorization, and who do not qualify as a U.S. citizen’s immediate relative may encounter difficulty when applying for adjustment. Therefore, a complex immigration history requires determining if exceptions will provide a successful path to permanent residency by filing an I-485 Form.     

Positive Change for TPS Beneficiaries

U.S. immigration law can present a challenging environment for green card applicants. Stated simply, INA § 245 includes several factors directly impacting an applicant’s eligibility for permanent residency. Despite these regulatory challenges, the TPS community should celebrate DHS’s decision to rescind Z-R-Z-C. No longer applying Z-R-Z-C ultimately eases some TPS beneficiaries’ eligibility for status adjustment (I-485 Form).