January 15, 2010 -Today, the U.S. government announced vital information for Haitians living in the United States.
DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano declared that Haitian nationals who were living in the U.S. as of Jan. 12, 2010 are eligible to file for Temporary Protected Status.
An urgent conference call was held by USCIS to inform community organizations about the next steps for Haitians in the United States who would like to file for TPS.
Below are some details on the information that has been released by USCIS so far. Please be aware that this information is changing quickly.
If you have questions about TPS, we advise:
• Call USCIS Customer Service at (800) 375-5283. The phone lines will be open extended hours, from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., all through the holiday weekend of Jan. 15-18, 2010. Right now, service is available in English and Spanish. USCIS is working on providing interpreters for other languages.
• Visit the @link href=’http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis’target=”_blank”>USCIS/link website. Additional information for Haitian applicants is being added regularly. See in particular this Q&A about who is eligible and how to file.
• If you need assistance filing for TPS, Philadelphia-area nonprofits with legal services departments include Nationalities Service Center, HIAS and Council Migration Service, and Catholic Social Services.
Community-based organizations should be aware that the Philadelphia USCIS office plans to hold an information session for nonprofit organizations on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2010 at 11 a.m. For more information, e-mail PHIcommunityrelations@dhs.gov.
Details on TPS status designation for Haiti:
Please note: This information is subject to revision and correction. If you have a question about your status, please speak to a qualified lawyer.
• The TPS eligibility announcement was made today by Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano
• A formal notice will be published in the Federal Register next week.
• Applicants will have 6 months to file for TPS after the notice is published.
• If a person’s TPS application is granted, it will be valid for 18 months.
• Applicants should file Form I-821 to apply for TPS. Applicants can also file Form I-765 to receive a Employment Authorization Document (work permit) and Form I-131 for a Travel Document (advance parole). Applicants can file all three forms at the same time.
• Form I-821 costs $50 to file, plus an $80 biometrics fee if the applicant is over 14 years old. Form I-765 costs $340. (If the applicant pays the biometrics fee for I-821, he/she does not have to pay the biometrics part of the fee again when filing I-765.) Form I-130 costs $305. People who cannot afford these fees may apply for a fee waiver.
For more information about how to apply for TPS and who is eligible to apply, see:
• USCIS critical questions and answers on TPS: Haiti
• Tips for filing Form I-821, Application for TPS (pdf)
• USCIS Haitian Relief Measures: Questions and Answers
Finally: Beware! Some scam artists try to profit from disaster by claiming to offer “special help” to immigrants filing applications with USCIS. Do not believe these people. There are no special fees or secret “friends” at USCIS who can speed up your application.
The staff at the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians extend our heartfelt and strong support to the more than 11,000 Haitian-born residents of the Philadelphia area. We grieve your losses and celebrate the survival of your loved ones and friends. May you find strength and comfort in each other and in our entire community during the days ahead.