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Why Temporary Protected Status Is Important For Haitians

By Carlos Batara

Haitians living in the United States on January 12, 2010 escaped the earthquake which destroyed their country.

They did not elude the misery.

Due to the massive destruction, thousands of Haitians lost family members.  Many more wait for news about their loved ones – whether they are dead or alive.  Countless others  lost their homes.

According to latest estimates, the earthquakes caused the death of about 200,000 Haitians.  1.5 million Haitians have been rendered homeless.  The actual figures may be higher.

On Saturday, January 23, 2010, the Associated Press reported one Haitian resident’s near miraculous survival. Stuck beneath the rubble of a hotel, he was found alive after being trapped for 11 days. He had taken shelter under a small desk when the earthquake hit. Praying for help, he ate any food he could reach. As he waited to be rescued, he could not tell if it was day or night.

As the United Nations teams continue their search, Haitians living here can only watch the recovery mission from a distance.

For now, they cannot go home.

To help Haitians living here, the U.S. government announced a new TPS program, Haitian Temporary Protection Status, on January 15, 2010.

What Is Temporary Protected Status?

TPS is not new. The program was created as part of the Immigration Act of 1990.

Temporary Protected Status For Haitians is one of several U.S. special immigration programs.

When TPS measures are is used by the U.S. government, it is always used as part of broader relief effort. The goal is to provide immigrants with short-term shelter when they cannot safely return home due to an environmental disaster, war, or other severe conditions.

The purpose of the new TPS program is to help Haiti get back on its feet.

TPS is only a temporary form of humanitarian relief. It does not grant permanent residence to Haitian immigrants living in the U.S. without authorization. It is not amnesty.

TPS will allow Haitian nationals to live and work legally in the U.S. for the next 18 months – if they meet certain requirements.

For Haitians who qualify, on a temporary basis, they will be:

  • Granted valid immigration status
  • Eligible to obtain a work permit

In addition, Haitians who are living here without lawful immigration papers, for now,  will be granted protection against deportation and removal as long as (a) they do not have criminal convictions and (b) they cannot be legally returned to some other country.

What Are The Haitian TPS Requirements?

To qualify for Haitian TPS status:

    • You must be a Haitian national (or a person without a nationality who last resided in Haiti)


    • You must have been present in the United States on January 12, 2010


    • You must have continuously resided in the U.S. since January 12, 2010


    You must all meet all applicable immigration requirements

Beware! Requirements May Be More Difficult Than They Seem

Don’t be fooled by the simple looking forms. Immigration requirements are not as easy as they seem.

For example, you must prove your Haitian nationality. What if you don’t have a birth certificate? What if the building which kept your birth records has been destroyed?

And don’t delay filing your application. If you miss the deadline, you could lose your chance to qualify for TPS.

Haitian TPS Filing Fees

If you’re filing for TPS for the first time, here’s the fee schedule:

Your family and friends probably need your support more than ever right now.

Because TPS can help you provide that support to them, it’s to your benefit to find a competent and compassionate immigration attorney with TPS experience to help you get past any stumbling blocks.