How Is USCIS Dealing With the Influx of Haitian Refugees Coming to the U.S.?
As a result of the President of Haiti being assassinated, the United States has expanded eligibility for temporary protected status for Haitians in the U.S. However, if you are in Haiti now, it doesn’t do you any good; it is only for Haitians who were already in the U.S. at the time of the new deadline.
- You need to have been a continuous resident in the U.S. since July 29th, 2021.
- You need to have had a continuous physical presence in the U.S. since August 3rd, 2021.
If you came to the United States recently without an immigrant status because you were in danger in Haiti, you can apply for TPS if you got here in time, and otherwise you might have other options, such as asylum.
Can I Bring a Family Member From Haiti to the United States Now?
There is nothing special in place that would allow you to bring a family member from Haiti beyond what is normally in place, but there are pre-existing immigration options. First, if your family member is in danger, they can apply for humanitarian parole to get into the country temporarily or they can potentially apply for refugee status. If they are already in the U.S., they can apply for asylee status.
What Is the Haitian TPS? Is It The Same As Seeking Asylum?
Haiti currently is designated Temporary Protected Status (TPS), but to qualify you must have been living in the U.S. by July 29th, 2021. TPS is not the same as asylum; it is a status available because the government deems the conditions of a country are so bad that it would be inhumane to force those living in the United States to go back to that country. TPS is valid for 18 months but is often renewed. Some countries were designated TPS in the 1990s that still qualify and people from those countries are living in the U.S. today. A major benefit of TPS is that it qualifies you for a work permit, in addition to allowing you to stay in the U.S. legally for a period of time.
Can Any Haitian Apply for TPS Right Now?
Most Haitians who were in the U.S. by July 29th, 2021, would qualify for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). There are some restrictions in addition to the date of arriving in the U.S., such as a relatively clean criminal record; many criminal convictions will disqualify people. Eligibility for TPS should be discussed with an attorney to assess your qualifications.
Are There Any Changes Expected in the TPS Program for 2021 or 2022?
The Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program is always changing. For example, if you are currently in the U.S. but arrived too late to qualify under the current TPS designation, don’t give up hope. Eligibility dates often change so you may become eligible in the future.
When Looking to Bring Their Family Members to the United States, Where Should Haitian People Start?
The process for bringing Haitian family members to the U.S. will depend on their situation. For people with a strong case for asylum, the fastest option is to probably get out of Haiti, present themselves at the border or airport, and request asylum. Oftentimes, they can be paroled into the country and legally allowed to remain to complete the process. They would have to do it at their own expense and there is no guarantee that they will be paroled in. They could be detained or sent back, however this is a solid option worth trying if you meet the qualifications for asylum. To be granted asylum you must demonstrate a reasonable fear of persecution based on
- political opinion, or
- belonging to a particular social group.
If you meet these qualifications, you may also contact the United Nations to apply for refugee status, but that is a much slower process.
Another option is to apply for humanitarian parole, which is a broader category, lacking specific eligibility requirements. The U.S. government can use its discretion to decide if there is a humanitarian reason to temporarily allow you into the country. It is most commonly granted for people who need medical treatment that is not available in their country.
Additional Information for Haitian Immigrants in the U.S.
The extension of eligibility of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians that are already in the United States is important to note. There has been confusion around this because the prior administration tried to cancel the program completely, even for Haitians that already had TPS under the pre-existing designation. There may be people out there unaware that the courts prevented this, who need to renew their status or get TPS under the new designation. If you are a Haitian, living in the U.S. before July 29th, 2021, you should give a serious look at applying for TPS if you don’t already have an immigration status.
For more information on Haitian Refugees Coming to the United States, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (617) 297-7502 today.