On May 24, the Department of Homeland Security announced that the 58,700 Haitians who live and work legally in the US thanks to their Temporary Protected Status (TPS) will have another six months to remain in the US.
TPS protects recipients from deportation. In some cases, Homeland Security allows immigrants it grants TPS to work legally and even travel. But TPS is temporary. It does not lead directly to lawful permanent residency.
In other words, after the latest extension for Haitians runs out on January 22, 2018, Homeland Security can begin deporting Haitians who received TPS.
In the meantime, Haitians who have already been granted TPS have just 60 days to re-register, starting when Homeland Security announced the extension on May 24. Any Haitian who currently receives TPS must re-register before July 24 to continue to be part of the program. Those who are authorized to work in the US can continue to do so until January 18—but only if they re-register before July 24 and request a new Employment Authorization Document (EAD) when they re-register.
The Department of Homeland Security grants TPS to immigrants who come from countries where events such as natural disasters, epidemics, or wars make it too dangerous to return. Historically, Homeland Security often extended TPS. Of the 10 countries eligible, half have been designated as TPS eligible for five years or more. Haitians have been able to receive TPS since just weeks after a major earthquake devastated the country in 2010.
But in a recent New York Times piece, officials at Homeland Security hinted that Secretary John F. Kelly may not extend TPS as readily as his predecessors. In his May 24 press release, Kelly himself stressed that TPS “beneficiaries are encouraged to prepare for their return to Haiti in the event Haiti’s designation is not extended again.”
Haiti’s ambassador to the US, Paul Altidor, says that failing to renew TPS would “create major issues for Haiti” as it struggles to rebuild. He also stresses that six months is not nearly long enough for the Haitian government to prepare to re-integrate nearly 60,000 emigres. Advocates, legislators, and TPS recipients also urge the government to extend TPS eligibility for Haitians.
Secretary Kelly says he will revisit the issue—and that he’ll do so no later than 60 days before the extension for Haitian ends on January 22, 2018. Until then? Haitians living in the US, like so many immigrants today, face an uncertain future.
For Secretary Kelly’s press release, see https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/05/24/2017-10749/extension-of-the-designation-of-haiti-for-temporary-protected-status.
For detailed information on the TPS program, see https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/temporary-protected-status
To learn more about how the TPS extension is affecting Haitian immigrants across the country, see this article in the Miami Herald (http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article151930167.html) and this article in the New York Times (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/22/us/haitians-displaced-extra-6-months-us.html?_r=1).