Haitians Need Relief – The United States Department of Homeland Security Responds
An earthquake of epic proportions struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, forever changing the lives of Haitians everywhere. In response to the aftershock, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is offering Temporary Protective Status (TPS) to Haitian nationals who are unable to return home due to the crisis in Haiti or are currently traveling in the United States. Initially, the Temporary Protective Status period will last for eighteen months, and DHS expects approximately 100,000 to 200,000 individuals will be eligible for TPS.
DHS grants TPS, which provides temporary immigration status and work authorization benefits, to eligible nationals of certain countries or persons without nationality who last habitually resided in those countries. Countries may become designated TPS countries if they are experiencing temporary negative conditions, such as environmental disasters or armed conflicts that prevent such individuals from returning to their countries safely or in situations where the countries are unable to manage their return. The catastrophic events in Haiti undoubtedly make it TPS-eligible by definition, and on January 21, 2010, Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, officially declared that Haitians would be granted such relief.
In order to qualify for TPS and temporary work authorization, Haitian nationals or persons who last habitually resided in Haiti must:
- Have continually resided in the United States since January 12, 2010; and
- Have been continuously physically present in the United States since the date of the Federal Register Notice publication, which was January 21, 2010.
Applicants will need proof of their Haitian nationality or that their last habitual residence was in Haiti. TPS candidates also must provide supporting documents to demonstrate they have continually resided in the United States since January 12, 2010, and have been continually physically present here since January 21, 2010.
Individuals have until July 20, 2010 to apply for TPS. Failure to fill out the forms correctly or using the incorrect versions of forms may result in processing delays and/or rejection of the applications. Additionally, different processing fees apply, depending on the applicant’s age.
While many individuals are likely eligible for TPS, persons convicted of any felony, or two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States are ineligible for TPS. Applicants may also be ineligible if one of the bars to asylum eligibility applies.
It is important to note that TPS relief itself does not lead to permanent resident status. When the Secretary terminates a country’s TPS designation, beneficiaries return to the same immigration status they maintained before TPS (unless that status has since expired or been terminated) or to any other status they may have obtained while registered for TPS. Recipients of TPS may still file for permanent resident status based on an immigrant petition or apply for any other immigration classification, benefit or protection. Likewise, pending applications will not be affected by the filing of a TPS application.
You or someone you know may qualify for TPS, and MacElree Harvey can provide information and assistance with the TPS process. We can ensure you are providing ample documentation to support your TPS eligibility, and answer any questions you may have.
The following article is informational only and not intended as legal advice. Speak with a licensed attorney about your own specific situation. © Copyright 2011 MacElree Harvey, Ltd. All rights reserved.