In light of the catastrophic earthquake that devastated the island of Haiti, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has announced several initial relief efforts to benefit foreign nationals affected by the earthquake.
On January 15th, 2010, Department of Homeland (DHS) Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that Haitian nationals would be granted Temporary Protective Status (TPS) in the United States. TPS is a temporary immigration status granted to eligible nationals of a certain country (or persons without nationality who last habitually lived in that country) designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security because that country has experienced temporary negative conditions, such as armed conflict or an environmental disaster, that prevent nationals of the country from returning safely or for the country to handle their return adequately. TPS beneficiaries are allowed to remain in the United States and can legally work for a set time period. TPS will be extended to Haitian nationals for 180 days.
To qualify for TPS persons must satisfy the following criteria:
Be a national of Haiti, or a person without nationality who last habitually resided in Haiti;
Have continuously resided in the U.S. since January 12, 2010;
Have been continuously physically present in the U.S. since the date of the Federal Register Notice publication;
Meet certain immigrant admissibility requirements, and other TPS eligibility requirements (See INA § 244(c), 8 U.S.C. § 1254a and 8 C.F.R. §§ 144.2-244.4.); and
Satisfactorily complete all TPS application procedures.
To apply for TPS must Haitian nationals must register by filing both an Application for Temporary Protected Status (Form I-821) and an Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765), with any appropriate fees or fee waiver requests.
It is important to note that Haitian nationals who arrived in the U.S. after January 12th, 2010 are not eligible for TPS under this new policy.