The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) extended the designation of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) for 18 months from July 23, 2014 through January 22, 2016.[i] Eligible Haitian nationals must re-register to extend their status during within a 60-day window. Applications were accepted as of March 3, 2014 and must be received no later than May 2, 2014 to take advantage of the extended TPS period. Haitian TPS beneficiaries working in the U.S. may also apply for a new Employment Authorization Document (“EAD”) to receive an EAD card valid through January 22, 2016.[ii] TPS does not grant permanent resident status (a green card) but it does offer temporary shelter I the United States without fear of deportation to the victims of disaster in their countries of origin.
Temporary Protected Status gives temporary respite from deportation to those who temporarily cannot safely return to their home country.
Haiti was designated a TPS country in 2010 when they suffered the severe earthquake. Other TPS countries include: El Salvador; Honduras; Nicaragua; Somalia; South Sudan; Sudan; and Syria.[iii] Countries receive TPS designations when their nationals face ongoing-armed conflicts, environmental disasters and other extraordinary conditions making for unsuitable living. The 2010 Haiti earthquake was catastrophic. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates 316,000 people died in the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti.[iv] Another several hundred thousand residences and buildings were destroyed leaving many homeless and without an able government to stabilize the area. Marking the four year anniversary of the earthquake, NPR published an article, “Four Years After Earthquake, Many in Haiti Remain Displaced.[v]” The article states that many have been able to rebuild, “But for nearly 150,000 people, life hasn’t moved on. They still live in the temporary plastic and plywood structures erected after the disaster.”
Haitian nationals who are beneficiaries of TPS must meet eligibility requirements to stay in the U.S.
The eligibility requirements for TPS and blocks to gaining TPS are listed on the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) website and are listed below. “To be eligible for TPS, an applicant must:
- Be a national of a country designated for TPS, or a person without nationality who last habitually resided in the designated country;
- File during the open initial registration or re-registration period, or meet the requirements for late initial filing during any extension of your country’s TPS designation;
- Have been continuously physically present (“CPP”) in the United States since the effective date of the most recent designation date of your country; and
- Have been continuously residing (“CR”) in the United States since the date specified for your country. The law allows an exception to the continuous physical presence and continuous residence requirements for brief, casual and innocent departures from the United States. When you apply or re-register for TPS, you must inform USCIS of all absences from the United States since the CPP and CR dates. USCIS will determine whether the exception applies in your case.[vi]”
Haitian TPS beneficiaries should be aware of blocks to eligibility requirements for extensions.
Some individuals may not be eligible for TPS or to maintain their status in the event they are convicted of a felony or multiple misdemeanor crimes while in the U.S. Additionally, criminal and security related grounds otherwise barring immigration and asylum eligibility will prevent TPS. Also, failure to maintain the CPP and CR requirements can be a block to TBS. Finally, failures to timely re-register for TPS as required could preclude eligibility.
Living and working in the U.S. requires compliance with immigration laws. TPS beneficiaries who work in the U.S. with a valid EAD card who apply for extended TPS must also obtain a new EAD with an extended expiration date. An immigration attorney can not only help TPS beneficiaries with the EAD process, they also work with individuals with issues related to TPS denials and withdrawals. When denied TPS, immigration attorneys can file appeals and motions when appropriate.
Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is licensed to practice law by the State of Illinois and Louisiana. She is skilled and experienced in complex immigration law issues including TPS and EAD matters. For more information about the law firm, please tap/click here to visit the rest of the website, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter or Google Plus.
[v] NPR: Four Years After Earthquake, Many In Haiti Remain Displaced. By Peter Granitz, Jan. 12, 2014.