After the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the U.S. government designated Haiti for temporary protected status (TPS) for a period of 18 months. Under section 244(b)(1) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Secretary is authorized to designate a foreign state for TPS upon finding that such state is experiencing an ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.
As a result, Haitian nationals (and aliens having no nationality who last habitually resided in Haiti) who have continuously resided in the United States since January 12, 2010, and who remain in continual physical presence in the United States from such time, may apply for TPS in order to avoid removal from the United States and to obtain employment authorization.
There is a 180-day registration period for applicants, commencing January 21, 2010, the date upon which Haiti was designated for TPS, which means that eligible individuals must submit their TPS applications no later than July 20, 2010.
Beware of Immigration Scams
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has issued a warning of immigration scams targeting Haitian applicants for TPS. Helpful tips to avoid becoming a victim of an immigration scam include:
- Do not sign any blank papers or documents that you do not understand
- Do not sign any documents that contain false or inaccurate information
- Do not let anyone keep your original documents
- Do not pay more than a nominal fee to someone who is not an attorney or make payments on the internet
- Do make photocopies of all documents prepared or submitted for you
- Do get a receipt any time you pay someone to assist you in completing or submitting forms
- Do verify that your attorney is licensed or your representative accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals
Seek Legal Advice Before Applying if You Have a Criminal History
Haitian nationals, who have a criminal history should be aware that certain past criminal convictions and conduct may make them ineligible for TPS (and that future criminal convictions and conduct may make them ineligible for re-registering for such benefits later). In addition, those who may be ineligible under these criminal bars should know that applying for TPS may lead not only to a denial of TPS status, but to possible immigration detention and deportation. Therefore, Haitian nationals with past criminal dispositions should seek legal advice before proceeding with a TPS application.