On November 20, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) announced that it will terminate the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Haiti, effective July 22, 2019. Haitians living in the United States under TPS have 18 months to seek lawful immigration status in the United States, if eligible, or leave the country. The announcement comes as little surprise, in light of the Trump Administration’s termination of Nicaragua’s TPS designation earlier this month. Termination of Haiti’s status also seemed probable after DHS only extended Haiti’s TPS by six months this past July, simultaneously advising Haitians to use that period to prepare for their ultimate departure.
While the administration states that it termination of Haiti’s TPS designation was based on its determination that the temporary conditions caused by the 2010 earthquake that gave rise to the designation no longer exist, many dispute that those conditions have been resolved. Given what has become a trend of terminating TPS designations, it appears likely that the administration may terminate most, if not all, TPS designations as they come up for review. Accordingly, it is recommended that all TPS holders fully explore all immigration options, including obtaining lawful permanent resident status through employers. Thanks to recent 9th Circuit case law, many (although not all) TPS holders in California are eligible to obtain permanent residency through employment sponsorship. Of course, the need to explore all immigration options is most pressing for Nicaraguans with TPS, whose status will be terminated by early 2019, and now Haitians with TPS, whose status will be terminated by mid-2019.
Haitians, as well as Nicaraguans, with TPS are required to reapply for Employment Authorization Documents in order to legally work in the United States until the TPS termination takes effect.
By Camiel Becker and Clare Bienvenu