US immigration officials announced that Haitians who fled their country following last year’s devastating earthquake are now eligible to apply for a special immigration status. This will allow them to legally live and work in the US.
Until the announcement, Haitians who were already living in the states before the January 12, 2010, disaster were eligible to apply for a Temporary Protected Status. Now, Haitians who fled to the US after the earthquake will enjoy protected status until January 22, 2013. In addition,those who immigrated before the quake were given an 18-month extension on their protected status, which was set to expire in July.
In a statement, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said the US is committed to assisting Haitian nationals who were affected by the tragedy.
“Providing a temporary refuge for Haitian nationals who are currently in the United States and whose personal safety would be endangered by returning to Haiti is part of this administration’s continuing efforts to support Haiti’s recovery,” she said.
Officials estimate delete the magnitude-7 earthquake killed approximately 316,000 people and left another 1 million homeless. About 680,000 people are reportedly still residing in refugee camps.