U.S. government to extend status for Haitians

Haitians living in the United States will continue to be protected under U.S. law by Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which will be extended an additional 18 months, according to the U.S. government. The Department of Homeland Security has designated places in the world where civil unrest or risk of natural disasters makes living there unsafe. The DHS grants Temporary Protected Status to undocumented individuals from those designated countries.

Haitians were granted 18 months of TPS after the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck and destroyed much of Haiti early in 2010. The Department of Homeland Security extended Haitian immigrants’ status 2011, and again late in 2012. According to a press release from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson plans to extend the status for eligible Haitian nationals from July 23, 2014 through Jan. 22, 2016. USCIS recorded more than 2,600 Haitians living in New Jersey alone as of December 2013.

Haitians who have received an extension on their status will also be allowed to apply for a new Employment Authorization Document (EAD). This is a form issued by USCIS that permits an undocumented immigrant to work in the U.S. for a specific period of time, the standard length being one year. EADs are also called work permits, and they are issued in the form of a card with the individual’s name, photo and work eligibility expiration date. Immigrants holding an EAD card may legally work in the United States for any employer.

Current TPS beneficiaries will not be required to pay a fee to re-register for the extension. They must submit Form I-821, which is the Application for Temporary Protected Status. USCIS provides extension applications for free online, or applicants are invited to contact USCIS by phone for explanation or interpretation.