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USCIS Grants Temporary Protected Status for Haitians


The USCIS has announced that Department of Homeland (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano has designated Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eligible nationals of Haiti.  The Secretary stated that this decision is warranted because of the devastating earthquake and aftershocks which occurred on January 12, 2010.  DHS estimates that approximately 100,000 to 200,000 individuals will be eligible for TPS. 

TPS is a temporary immigration status granted to eligible nationals of a certain country designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security because the country has experienced temporary negative conditions, such as armed conflict or an environmental disaster, that prevent nationals of the country from returning safely or for the country to handle their return adequately. 

The Haitian TPS registration period will run for 180 days.  DHS stated that TPS eligibility will be for an initial period of 18 months.  Applicants who apply for TPS will also be able to apply for an Employment Authorization Document and Advance Parole Travel Document.  Although, these applications will require fees, DHS has stated that they will consider fee waivers for those that can demonstrate that they are unable to pay the costs of the applications.

As proof of nationality, USCIS is looking primarily for a passport (an expired one is acceptable) or birth certificates. For those that have problems with obtaining this documentation, USCIS indicated that secondary evidence would be considered.

On the subject of orphans, USCIS noted that, if adopting parents were in the Haiti at the time of the earthquake, they may go to the U.S. embassy to complete the adoption process, and the government of Haiti will waive the exit visa requirement. DHS and the Department of State are still working on the issues related to adoptions by parents not in Haiti. They urge parents not to travel to Haiti at this time.

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