More than 1,000 Iowa immigrants are in the U.S. with Temporary Protected Status (TPS). A court ruled they can now apply for a green card if they fit certain qualifications.
The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled TPS recipients in Iowa from El Salvador and Honduras can apply for a green card now.
They need to have a spouse or adult child over the age of 21, who is a U.S. citizen, file the I-130 form. Ann Naffier, legal director of Iowa Justice For Our Neighbors, said the TPS recipients in Iowa have been living here, many times, more than 20 years. According to the Congressional Research Service, 1,483 TPS recipients live in Iowa.
“The thing is, they used to not be able to [apply for a green card],” Naffier explained. “Even if they had a family member, they were not eligible for getting their green card because at least the vast majority of them may have originally entered the United States without inspection, meaning they just crossed the border, they didn’t come in with a visa.”
And if they want to take advantage of this new process, they need to do so quickly. Naffier said it can take up to a year to receive a green card.
“For one thing, we don’t know how long this decision will stand at some point, it will probably be appealed to the Supreme Court,” Naffier said.
The immigration lawyer said another deadline approaching should also motivate quick applications because a lot of TPS recipients are slated to lose their status Jan. 4, 2021.
People with TPS from El Salvador will have their status determined after the Ramos v. Nielsen case.
“That court case will decide when Salvadorans actually, finally lose their TPS. And they will get one year after the date that Ramos has decided,” Naffier said. “So this means that there is enough time now. So now we’re definitely going to start going full force [with green card applications].”
Naffier said Iowa’s economy could struggle if the state’s TPS recipients are not granted their green cards.
“Now that many of them hopefully are going to be able to find another path to stay here. I think that’s going to help Iowa,” Naffier said.
Naffier said because this ruling may change in the future, TPS recipients should reach out to immigration advisors or lawyers as soon as possible.