Certiorari To The United States Court Of Appeals For The Third Circuit

No. 20–315. Argued April 19, 2021—Decided June 7, 2021

Petitioner Jose Santos Sanchez is a citizen of El Salvador who challenges the denial of his application to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States. Sanchez entered the United States unlawfully in 1997. In 2001, the Government granted him Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The TPS program allows foreign nationals of a country designated by the Government as having unusually bad or dangerous conditions to live and work in the United States while the conditions last. See §1254a. In 2014, Sanchez applied under §1255 of the immigration laws to obtain LPR status. Section 1255 provides a way for a “nonimmigrant”—a foreign national lawfully present in this country on a temporary basis—to obtain an “[a]djustment of status” to LPR. 8 U. S. C. §1255. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services determined Sanchez ineligible for LPR status because he entered the United States unlawfully. Sanchez successfully challenged that decision before the District Court, which reasoned that Sanchez’s TPS required treating him as if he had been lawfully admitted to the country for purposes of his LPR application. The Third Circuit reversed, finding Sanchez’s unlawful entry into the country precluded his eligibility for LPR status under §1255, notwithstanding his TPS.

Held: A TPS recipient who entered the United States unlawfully is not eligible under §1255 for LPR status merely by dint of his TPS. Section 1255 provides that eligibility for LPR status generally requires an “admission” into the country— defined to mean “the lawful entry of the alien into the United States after inspection and authorization by an immigration officer.” §1101(a)(13)(A). Sanchez did not enter lawfully. And his TPS does not eliminate the effect of that unlawful entry. Section 1254a(f)(4) provides that a TPS recipient who applies for permanent residency will be treated as having nonimmigrant status—the status traditionally and generally needed to invoke the LPR process under §1255. But that provision does not aid the TPS recipient in meeting §1255’s separate admission requirement. Lawful status and admission are distinct concepts in immigration law, and establishing the former does not establish the latter. Sanchez resists this conclusion, arguing that the statute’s directive that a TPS recipient “shall be considered . . . as a nonimmigrant” for purposes of §1255 means he must also be considered as admitted. But the immigration laws nowhere state that admission is a prerequisite of nonimmigrant status. So there is no reason to interpret the TPS provision’s conferral of nonimmigrant status as including a conferral of admission. In fact, contrary to Sanchez’s position, there are immigration categories in which individuals have nonimmigrant status without admission. See, e.g., §§1101(a)(10), 1101(a)(15)(U), 1182(d)(14). Thus, when Congress confers nonimmigrant status for purposes of §1255, but says nothing about admission, the Court has no basis for ruling an unlawful entrant eligible to become an LPR. Pp. 4–9.

967 F. 3d 242, affirmed.

 Kagan, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.