On May 22, 2021, the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security announced a new designation of the country of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The TPS program provides temporary protections in the U.S. to eligible nationals of countries whose conditions prevent a safe return. In Haiti, serious security concerns, social unrest, an increase in human rights abuses, crippling poverty, and lack of basic resources—including food, water, and healthcare—have all been compounded by the COIVD-19 pandemic. The country is also suffering the persistent, lingering effects of the 2010 earthquake. Because of the severity of these conditions, it is not safe to travel to Haiti.
With this TPS designation, Haitian nationals (and those without a nationality but who last resided in Haiti) who have been present in the U.S. since May 21, 2021 may apply for TPS during a set registration period, which will begin once a formal notice has been published in the Federal Register. TPS applicants must demonstrate that they meet the eligibility criteria of 8 USC §1254a(c)(1)-(2).
During the TPS designation period, TPS beneficiaries are eligible to remain in the U.S., may not be removed, and are authorized to obtain work and travel authorization so long as they continue to meet the requirements of TPS. To apply for TPS, individuals submit a Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status, to USCIS and pay the associated filing fees. Employment and travel authorization require separate applications—Forms I-765 and I-131—along with respective filing fees.
Those eligible for TPS under Haiti’s new designation include current beneficiaries under Haiti’s previous designations. Haiti was initially designated for TPS in January 2010 after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake and redesignated in 2011. The TPS designation was extended—based on continuing extraordinary conditions—in 2013, 2015, and 2017. In 2018, a Federal Register notice announced the termination of Haiti’s TPS designation, but federal court injunctions prevented that termination from taking effect. Current beneficiaries should apply under the new designation to ensure continuity of their TPS status and benefits.
Haiti’s recent TPS designation is for a period of 18 months, beginning on the date of the forthcoming Federal Register publication. At least 60 days before the expiration of this period, the Secretary of Homeland Security must review the conditions in Haiti and determine whether to extend or terminate the TPS designation. When country conditions improve and the designation is terminated, individuals are returned to the same immigration status or condition held prior to the grant of TPS, unless that status has since expired. Individuals who believe they qualify for TPS are encouraged to consult with a T&S legal professional to evaluate their eligibility.