What’s Really Going on With TPS for Haiti?

Over the past few weeks, a lot of misinformation has been circulating about TPS in Haiti. I’ve drafted this post to explain what TPS is, what the process/requirements are, what we currently know about TPS for Haiti, and what options TPS beneficiaries have. Updates will be provided here as they come. Please feel free to share this post.

TPS for Haiti now ends on January 22, 2018.

What is TPS?

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a temporary immigration benefit given to nationals of a particular country due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning there safely, or where the country is not able to adequately handle the return of its nationals/

How does a country get TPS?

The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security makes the decision to designate a country for TPS. The Secretary may designate a country for TPS due to temporary conditions in the country, such as a civil war, epidemics or natural disasters, or other temporary extraordinary conditions. Secretary Janet Napolitano designated Haiti for TPS on January 21, 2010 due to the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck the island on January 12, 2010.

What are the benefits of having TPS?

While you have TPS, you cannot be deported from the U.S., you can get a work card, and you may be granted travel authorization to leave the U.S. if needed. Also, while you have TPS, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) cannot detain you based on your immigration status.

Can you get a green card by having TPS?

TPS does not lead to lawful permanent residency (i.e. getting a green card), but if you qualify for a green card based through a job or a family member, you might be able to apply to change your status. Each case is different so you should speak to a lawyer to determine your options and eligibility.

How do you apply for TPS?

You apply for TPS by filling out the required applications and submitting the applicable fees. Fee waivers are available if you cannot afford to pay the fees. Keep in mind that if you apply for a fee waiver and it is denied, your TPS application will also be denied for lack of a fee. This can impact your ability to apply in time, so if you need to apply for a fee waiver, do so as soon as possible.

What is the status of TPS for Haiti? 

TPS for Haiti is expected to end on January 22, 2018.

Why did USCIS recommend ending TPS for Haiti?

USCIS recommends ending TPS in Haiti for a few reasons. First, DHS believes that the situation in Haiti has improved enough to allow the U.S. to deport Haitians (DHS had suspended deporting Haitians because of the devastating effect of Hurricane Matthew, but have resumed deportations since then). Second, The United Nations recently announced that its peacekeeping mission in Haiti will end in October 2017 as the Haitian Government transitions back into control of the island. Third, USCIS believes that Haiti has made significant progress in addressing the effects of the earthquake. While USCIS acknowledges that Haiti still has many other problems, it states that most of these issues existed in Haiti long before the 2010 earthquake or Hurricane Matthew, thus the reasons for the TPS designation (i.e. the 2010 earthquake) no longer exist.

What happens next?

The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security must decide whether to extend TPS for Haiti, end TPS for Haiti, or redesignate TPS for Haiti and extend the current designation. If TPS is extended for Haiti, this status can be extended for 6, 12, or 18 months max. If TPS is terminated, any beneficiary without another immigration status or authorization would no longer have permission to stay in the U.S. If TPS for Haiti is re-designated (which in my opinion is very unlikely), new TPS applicants could apply for the first time and existing TPS beneficiaries could re-register their status.

When will a final decision be made on whether to renew TPS for Haiti?

By law, a final decision must be made by November 23, 2017. If a decision is not made by this date, TPS for Haiti will automatically be extended for a minimum of 6 months

How many Haitians in the U.S. currently have TPS?

There are about 60,000 Haitians in the U.S. with TPS.

What will happen if TPS for Haiti is terminated? Will all Haitians be immediately deported?

If TPS for Haiti is terminated in January 2018, it is likely that this status will be temporarily extended to give beneficiaries a transitionary period to either obtain another immigration status and/or to make arrangements to return to Haiti. It is unlikely that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will immediately begin deporting Haitians because many Haitians may have a defense to deportation, which they would need to argue in immigration court. The immigration court system is already very swamped, so trying to deport Haitians will make the court system even more so.

What options do TPS beneficiaries have if TPS is not renewed?

Options for TPS beneficiaries are on a case by case basis and should be discussed with an immigration attorney. However, one common benefit is to get a green card through a family member in the U.S. You may be able to get a green card if you are the immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, a family member of a U.S. citizen based on a preference category, or a family member of someone with a green card. There are other options available to get a green card through a family member, but these should be discussed with an immigration attorney.

If you have any other questions about TPS or need to talk to a lawyer to discuss your immigration options, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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