Haitians in the U.S. to Lose Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in 2019

Haitians with TPS are expected to make arrangements to leave the United States by July 22, 2019.

** LEGAL UPDATE **

According to an announcement by DHS Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti will be terminated in 18 months. This affects approximately 59,000 Haitians currently living and working in the United States.

The reason given for the termination was that the extraordinary but temporary conditions caused by the 2010 earthquake, which initially led to the TPS designation and grant of temporary refugee to Haitian people who happened to be in the U.S. then, no longer exist. DHS believes that Haiti is able to safely receive its returned citizens.

Officials within Haiti contested this finding. They reportedly pointed out that, for example, around 40,000 people in Haiti continue to live in camps for displaced persons, having lost their homes in the earthquake.

Immigration experts in the U.S. made similar objections, and promised legal action in response.

Renowned attorney Ira Kurzban, for instance, stated that, "From a legal point of view, Haitians in the United States literally check of every single category for Temporary Protected Status. Given political instability in the country, given repeated environmental disasters, and given the fact that the third category for TPS is that it would be difficult for people to return to the country. We know that Secretary Duke in her decision did not consider the cholera epidemic in Haiti; did not consider the two earthquakes that have caused substantial and internal damage within the country; did not consider the political instability; and did not consider as a practical matter the effects of the earthquakes. Earthquakes, as we know, take many years to recover from. We are here today to announce that we do intend to take legal action against the Administration."

Perhaps such objections were part of the reason that DHS set a delayed effective date for the termination, of July 22, 2019. The stated reason was to give time for Haitian TPS holders to wrap up their affairs in the U.S. and arrange for their departure, or to consult with attorneys about whether they have an alternative path to lawful immigration status in the United States. It is also meant to provide time for the Haitian government to get ready for the returnees.

Until that date, Haitians may still seek permission to work in the United States. However, their current work permits (officially called Employment Authorization Documents EADs) will run out soon, so they will need to reapply. See the Temporary Protected Status Designated Country: Haiti page of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for details on how to apply.

Effective Date: November 20, 2017