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In late May, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced that the United States would grant Haiti Temporary Protected Status for an 18-month period. 

Effective August 3, 2021, Haitians present in the United States may apply for temporary protected status (TPS) pursuant to a new designation of the program announced by the Biden administration.

This program is available to all eligible Haitians in the United States, including those who currently hold TPS pursuant to a prior designation, as well as those who have never previously applied for TPS, and those whose previous grants of TPS have lapsed. 

This current designation of TPS would allow all eligible Haitian nationals currently residing in the U.S. to remain in the United States and apply for work authorization during this 18-month period, which may be extended.

All eligible Haitians present in the United States on July 29, 2021 are encouraged to reapply as initial applicants under the current TPS designation due to the uncertainty of the prior Haitian TPS designations that remain subject to litigation

Secretary Mayorkas cited political crisis, violence, and a staggering increase in human rights abuses as justification for redesignating Haiti for Temporary Protected Status.

Within this context, Haiti faces challenges of food insecurity and malnutrition, waterborne disease epidemic, and high vulnerability to natural hazards, all of which are exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Our team of New Orleans immigration attorneys at Pelton + Balducci has been helping people from around the world apply for Temporary Protected Status in the United States for decades. Below, we look at the details of this new status for Haitian citizens and what it means for our clients.

What Is Temporary Protected Status?

Temporary Protected Status is a legal designation granted by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to foreign-born persons who cannot return to their home country due to specified conditions. 

These conditions may include:

  • Ongoing armed conflict
  • Natural disaster
  • Human rights abuses
  • Economic crises
  • Public health crises

In order to qualify for Temporary Protected Status, applicants must apply to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services during the specified registration period and meet certain eligibility criteria. 

Persons who are granted Temporary Protected Status enjoy the following benefits:

  • You cannot be removed from the U.S.
  • You cannot be detained by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security due to your immigration status
  • You are eligible for an employment authorization document
  • You are eligible for travel authorization

Temporary Protected Status for Haitians

Haiti was originally granted Temporary Protected Status in 2010 following a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. These protections were renewed several times until 2017 when the Trump administration attempted to end them.

A series of lawsuits produced rulings that prevented the Trump administration from terminating Temporary Protected Status for Haitian nationals. 

Again, the government is encouraging ALL eligible Haitians present in the United States on July 29, 2021 to reapply as initial applicants under this current TPS designation due to the uncertainty of the prior Haitian TPS designations that remain subject to litigation. 

Requirements for Haitians to apply for Temporary Protected Status during this period include establishing that they have resided in the U.S. since July 21, 2021 and been physically present since August 3, 2021. Note that “residence” and “physical presence” are two distinct requirements.

In other words, only Haitian nationals who have been living in the U.S. qualify for Temporary Protected Status. Haitians entering the U.S. for the first time after July 21, 2021 will not be eligible for TPS under this designation.

How to Obtain Temporary Protected Status

In order to qualify for Temporary Protected Status, you must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • You must be a Haitian national or a habitually stateless resident of Haiti
  • You must have resided in the United States since July 21, 2021
  • You must have been physically present in the United States since August 3, 2021
  • You cannot pose a criminal or national security threat to the U.S. (you may not have a convictions of one felony or two misdemeanors)
  • You must submit your application to USCIS between August 3, 2021 and February 23, 2023

Importantly, individuals with prior removal orders and certain other immigration violations such as visa overstays and unlawful entries are permitted to apply for TPS.

The application procedure for Temporary Protected Status requires you to complete and sign Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status. You may find this form on the website of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or the Federal Register for Haiti. The appropriate fees, forms for work authorization, and supporting evidence must also be submitted. 

Although Temporary Protected Status does not offer a path to a green card or citizenship, it also does not prevent anyone who is eligible from pursuing another lawful status simultaneously. 

Contact a New Orleans Immigration Attorney today

The path to Temporary Protected Status can be a complicated one. But those complications become easier with the assistance of experienced immigration lawyers like Pelton + Balducci.

With decades of combined experience in immigration law, our immigration attorneys have helped hundreds of families earn their rightful place in the United States. Contact us today to discuss your case.

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