DHS Announces Temporary Protected Status Designation for Haiti

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced that DHS has granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitian immigrants for 18 months. As a result, Haitian nationals and individuals without nationality but who last lived in Haiti and were present in the U.S. as of May 21, 2021, can apply for TPS status as long as they are otherwise eligible for the program.

Filing for TPS

Eligible persons present in the U.S. as of May 21, 2021, will receive further instructions after notice of the designation is published in the Federal Register. The publication date will start the designated 18-month period of TPS eligibility. It also will govern the registration period available for eligible individuals to seek TPS.

Generally, these individuals must file initial applications for TPS within the appropriate registration period. Under Haiti’s TPS designation, individuals who already have TPS status must file new applications to avoid any gaps in their TPS status. Qualified individuals are temporarily protected from removal from the U.S. They also can apply for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) and travel documents. All eligible people must undergo security and background checks as part of the application process.

Historical Background of TPS Designation for Haiti

The first designation for TPS for Haiti occurred in January 2010 due to a massive earthquake and was extended and redesignated for TPS in 2011. Haiti’s TPS designation was extended in 2013, 2015, and 2017. The Trump administration attempted to terminate Haiti’s TPS designation as of July 22, 2019. However, various lawsuits and court rulings have left TPS status for existing beneficiaries in place, at least through October 4, 2021.

TPS Generally

Mayorkas cited the ongoing security concerns, social unrest, human rights abuses, poverty, and lack of basic resources, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, as reasons for granting TPS to this group of people. DHS can designate nationals of specific countries as eligible for TPS when extraordinary and temporary conditions make it impossible for those nationals to safely return to their home countries. TPS is designed to provide support to these individuals until they can return home without danger.

Situations that may make a country (or parts of a country) eligible for TPS designation include:

  • Ongoing armed conflicts, such as civil war
  • Environmental disasters, such as hurricanes or earthquakes
  • Epidemics
  • Other extraordinary and temporary situations

Once granted TPS, not only can individuals temporarily avoid removal from the U.S., but they also cannot be detained by DHS based on their immigration status.

TPS is a form of temporary relief, so there is no pathway to citizenship or a green card for those eligible for TPS. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the inability of a TPS beneficiary to apply for a green card due to TPS status in a recent unanimous decision in Sanchez v. Mayorkas, issued on June 7, 2021. However, nothing prevents individuals with TPS status from applying for other forms of immigration relief, such as asylum, nonimmigrant status, or adjustment of status.

TPS Eligibility

Some individuals are ineligible for TPS, even if they timely apply for coverage during the appropriate registration period and are nationals of a TPS-designated country. Factors that make people ineligible for TPS include:

  • A felony conviction or more than two misdemeanor convictions committed in the U.S.
  • Inadmissibility under INA § 212(a), including nonwaivable criminal and national security grounds
  • Any bars to asylum, such as assisting in the persecution of another person or engaging in terrorist activity
  • Failing to meet the continuous physical presence and residence requirements in the U.S.
  • Failing to meet initial or late registration filing requirements
  • Failing to reregister for TPS when necessary, without good cause

Other TPS-Designated Countries

In addition to Haiti, several other countries enjoy TPS status for various reasons. These countries include Burma (Myanmar), El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen.

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