Haitians Awaiting Family-Based Green Cards May Be Allowed Quicker U.S. Entry

Humanitarian parole will allow some Haitians to await a family-based green card within the U.S.

Because of the safety and other issues that have plagued the country of Haiti since its devastating 2010 earthquake, the U.S. government recently announced a program to help families who are divided between the two countries. (See the USCIS press release titled “DHS To Implement Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program.”)

Called the Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP) Program, it’s meant to help reunify U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents of the U.S. with their family members who are still living in Haiti.

More specifically, this program will allow Haitians who have already received U.S. government approval of an I-130 visa petition filed by their U.S. family members and are within two years of actual green card eligibility to request what’s called “parole” in the United States. (See Nolo’s article, "What Is Humanitarian Parole?”.)  

Parole is not the equivalent of a green card – it’s just a temporary status – but it can help family deal with the long waits that exist for many categories of family-based U.S. green cards. (To better understand these long waits, see Nolo’s article, “How Long Is the Wait for Your Priority Date to Become Current?”.)

The HFRP allows U.S. entry and employment authorization (a work permit, also called an EAD). After completing any waiting period for a visa (green card) to become available, the Haitian citizen will presumably be allowed to apply for adjustment of status in the United States.

It’s important to note the limits of the HFRP program:

  • It won’t help distant family members who aren’t eligible for family-based U.S. permanent residence under existing categories of U.S. law.
  • It appears not to help anyone who hasn’t already been approved as the beneficiary of an I-130 family visa petition (though full details of the program have not yet been released).
  • It won’t help family members whose wait for the availability of a U.S. green card (immigrant visa) appears to be longer than two years at the time they apply.
  • You can’t apply for the HFRP until 2015, by which time U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) hopes to have worked out the program details and contacted eligible citizens of Haiti.

Despite these limitations, experts estimate that up to 5,000 Haitians might benefit in the first year of the HFRP’s implementation.