Temporary Protected Status For Haitians

February 2010 - By Shahzad Ahmed with NeJame Law

Following the devastation from the January earthquake in Haiti, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security took measures to provide protection to certain Haitians in the U.S. For one, the government temporarily halted the deportation of detained Haitian immigrants. Moreover, the government announced a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program .

TPS is typically granted by our government when there has been an earthquake, flood, drought, epidemic, or other environmental disaster resulting in a substantial, but temporary, disruption of living conditions in the area affected. TPS has previously been granted for various countries, such as Sudan, Somalia, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. Although Haiti has previously suffered from repeated natural disasters, the magnitude of the recent earthquake has finally prompted our government to issue this TPS program.

What are the benefits from TPS? 

The TPS program for Haitians can provide some important benefits. It provides 18 months of temporary status. It provides work authorization.

Who can benefit from TPS? 

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said between 100,000 and 200,000 Haitians are believed to be in the United States illegally. In order to be eligible for TPS, the applicant must have been present in the U.S. on January 12, 2010. However, there are some grounds of ineligibility. For example, if someone has been convicted of certain types of criminal or security related grounds, then he or she could not only be barred from TPS, . . . but be deportable. This illustrates that each applicant should consult with an experienced immigration attorney prior to filing for this benefit.

Currently, the filing fee for the TPS application is $50 plus $80 for fingerprints. Also, there is a $340 fee for work authorization. (Note that there are some exceptions to the filing fee requirements and fee waivers.)

But what will happen at the end of the 18 month period? Our guess is that the program will probably be renewed. The TPS programs for other countries, which started in the year 2000 or so have been renewed every 18 months.

NeJame Law extends its deepest sympathies for all Haitians affected by the recent tragedy in Haiti. Our firm is offering community service assistance in filing for TPS for those individuals who lack the financial means, or for a nominal fee for those who do have the means. Feel free to contact our firm for any information about the TPS program.