TPS for Haiti: Why You Should Apply

As most people in Boston’s Haitian community know by now, Haitian nationals who are now in the U.S. may apply for Temporary Protective Status or TPS to avoid deportation from the U.S. and to obtain a work permit, i.e., employment authorization. Applications for TPS are filed on Form I-821 and must be received by the cut-off deadline of July 20, 2010.

TPS is a generous benefit. Consider the following:

  • A final order of deportation or removal will not disqualify you for TPS as a Haitian;
  • As a Haitian, you may qualify for TPS even if you are out of status or have overstayed your visa; and
  • If you entered the U.S. without inspection, you may still apply for TPS as a Haitian.

I’m often asked by people who are out of status or who have been in deportation proceedings, whether it makes sense to apply for TPS.  The risk is clear.  TPS is, of course, temporary; it is not a green card and doesn’t lead to permanent residency, i.e., a green card.  TPS merely provides immigration status and work authorization for a temporary, 18-month period.

So, if someone has been deported or is out of status, TPS provides only a temporary reprieve for 18 months.  What then will become of countless Haitians with TPS who have orders of removal or who are out of status?  In short, the question that is usually put to me:  “Won’t Immigration just come and arrest me after the 18 months are over?”

This is a valid concern.  But I still recommend applying and here’s why.  Although TPS for Haitians is designated for 18 months, I suspect that TPS will be around for many years to come.  Consider the example of El Salvador, which was granted TPS after an earthquake in 2001 and since then has been extended for a series of 18-month periods.  And it remains in effect today nearly a decade later.  Based on this and other TPS programs, I don’t see Congress taking away TPS for Haiti anytime soon.

And Haitian considering TPS should take another lesson from the experience of El Salvador:  apply before the deadline or you will miss out.  For Haitian seeking TPS the deadline is July 20, 2010.  After that date, your application will be late.

In summary, I generally recommend that all eligible Haitians consider apply for TPS.  If you need immigration help or advice on this or other issues, please call my Boston immigration law office at 617-722-0005 and schedule an immigration consultation with one of our attorneys today.