U.S. extends TPS for another 18 months

Haitians who received "Temporary Protected Status" — or TPS— from the U.S. government last year got good news today: They can stay in the U.S. for an additional 18 months, per the order of the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano. She announced the extension today and it will be effective July 23, 2011— meaning that Haitian beneficiaries can remain in the United States through Jan. 22, 2013. Roughly 48,000 Haitian nationals have received TPS designation.

“In the extended aftermath of the devastating earthquakes in Haiti, the United States has remained fully committed to upholding our responsibility to assist individuals affected by this tragedy by using tools available under the law,” said Secretary Napolitano in a press release issued this morning. “Providing a temporary refuge for Haitian nationals who are currently in the United States and whose personal safety would be endangered by returning to Haiti is part of this administration’s continuing efforts to support Haiti’s recovery.”

Secretary Napolitano also made an important revision to the TPS rules: eligible Haitian nationals who have continuously resided in the United States since Jan. 12, 2011, will also be able to obtain TPS through Jan. 22, 2013. This will permits eligible individuals who arrived up to one year after the earthquake in Haiti to receive the protection of TPS. Haitians who are not currently in the United States will not qualify for TPS and should not attempt to enter the United States, the Department of Homeland Security said today.

Haitians in the United States who are eligible to apply for TPS should go to www.uscis.gov/tps or call USCIS toll-free at 1-800-375-5283.

Senator John Kerry (D-MA) applauded the decision.

“The people of Haiti faced a desperate situation following the earthquake and it particularly affected Haitian families living in Massachusetts,” said Sen. Kerry. “Today’s announcement is just the right thing to do for Haitian nationals peacefully living and working in the United States. They should not be forced to return to a ravaged homeland where their basic human needs cannot be met.”