The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may designate a country for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) when conditions make it unsafe for citizens of that country who are in the United States to return. TPS is usually granted when there is ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. Due to the recent 7.0 magnitude earthquake, DHS has designated Haiti for TPS.
Haitian nationals who have continuously resided in the United States since January 12, 2010, and who remain “continuously physically present” since January 21, 2010, may register for TPS and apply for U.S. employment authorization between January 21, 2010, and July 20, 2010. Approved applicants will be granted TPS for 18 months. Depending on ongoing conditions in country, DHS may renew the Haitian TPS program for additional 18-month periods.
DHS has also announced an expanded humanitarian parole policy for certain Haitian orphans. DHS may grant humanitarian parole in order to allow otherwise inadmissible individuals to enter the United States for urgent humanitarian reasons. The expanded policy applies to 2 classes of Haitian children: (1) those who the Government of Haiti has confirmed are orphans eligible for intercountry adoption and who are being adopted by U.S. citizens; and (2) those who were previously identified by an adoption service provider as eligible for intercountry adoption and have been matched to U.S. citizen prospective adoptive parents.
Finally, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced it will apply favorable discretion and expedite, wherever possible, various forms of immigration relief for Haitian nationals in the United States who have been affected by the earthquake, including applications for extension or change of status, extended parole or advance parole, employment authorization for Haitian students, and relative petitions for family members who remain in Haiti.
Haitian nationals who require assistance to apply for TPS or obtain other immigration relief are encouraged to contact an immigration attorney or a reputable legal service organization, such as Catholic Charities.