Jul 30 2021

DHS Designates Haiti for Temporary Protected Status, Expands Employment Options for Haitian F-1 Students

United States

At a Glance

  • The Department of Homeland Security has newly designated Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), from August 3, 2021 through February 3, 2023.
  • Haitian beneficiaries who received TPS under the previous 2010 designation, which was slated for termination by the Trump Administration and which is the subject of ongoing litigation, are encouraged to submit new applications under the latest designation. 
  • The registration period for all TPS applicants will run for the duration of the TPS period, from August 3, 2021 through February 3, 2023. Eligible individuals will also be able to apply for TPS-related employment authorization documents (EADs) and travel permission during this time.
  • DHS has also announced that it will suspend certain employment authorization rules for Haitian students in F-1 status who are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the crisis in Haiti.

The issue

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has newly designated Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, from August 3, 2021 through February 3, 2023, according to a notice scheduled for publication next week in the Federal Register. Haitians who can demonstrate continuous residence in the United States since July 29, 2021 will be eligible to apply under the new designation.  Haitian TPS beneficiaries who received TPS in connection with a 2010 designation and have been able to continue their status in accordance with court orders are encouraged to submit new applications under the latest designation.  All applicants, regardless of whether they have held TPS status, will have the full length of the designation period to file for TPS status and for related employment authorization documents (EADs) and travel permission. 

DHS has determined that conditions in Haiti warrant a new grant of Temporary Protected Status for the country’s citizens in the United States. The deteriorating political crisis following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with the increase in violence and human rights abuses, and rising food insecurity, malnutrition, waterborne disease epidemics and high vulnerability to natural disasters, prevent Haitian nationals and habitual residents from returning to Haiti safely. 

Relatedly, DHS is also suspending certain employment authorization rules for Haitian citizens in F-1 status who are experiencing severe economic hardship due to the current crisis in Haiti. 

Background on Haiti and its TPS designation

Haiti was originally designated for TPS in 2010, in the wake of a major earthquake.  The designation was extended several times until January 2018, when the Trump Administration announced it would terminate Haiti from the TPS program in 2019.  The announced termination continues to be the subject of ongoing challenges in federal court, with temporary extensions granted by court order to affected Haitian nationals through October 4, 2021. 

Haitians granted TPS benefits under the 2010 designation are eligible and encouraged to apply under the new TPS designation. Though DHS has said it will continue to recognize the prior grants of TPS and will continue to extend benefits under the prior designation as required by court orders, it also notes that those benefits will terminate should the court order cease to be in effect. 

In May, DHS announced plans to designate Haiti anew for TPS, for all those who have resided in the United States since May 21, 2021.  In light of the increasing violence and unrest in Haiti this summer, DHS has broadened the requirements, making eligible Haitians who have resided in the United States since July 29, 2021.

TPS eligibility and application process for all applicants, including those who previously held TPS

 

By newly designating Haiti for TPS, USCIS estimates that approximately 155,000 Haitian individual will become eligible to apply or re-apply for the program.  Haitian nationals can apply for this designation if they can demonstrate that they have had continuous residence in the United States since July 29, 2021. Applicants must file a Form I-821 application with appropriate fee(s) (or request for fee waiver) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within the redesignation period from August 3, 2021 through February 3, 2023. Applicants may also apply for EADs and for travel authorization during this time, by submitting the corresponding forms and fee(s) or fee waiver request. TPS and its related work authorization will be approved with a February 3, 2023 expiration date. 

All individuals applying for TPS undergo security and background checks as part of determining eligibility. Biometrics collection (fingerprints) is generally required for applicants ages 14 and older.

Applicants who previously held TPS under the prior Haitian designation should indicate they are filing as an “initial (first time)” applicant. 

Validity of EADs issued under prior TPS designations

As announced in December 2020, certain Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) issued to Haitians who were granted TPS under the 2010 designation will remain valid until October 4, 2021. As such, for Form I-9 employment eligibility verification purposes, through October 4, 2021, employers may continue to accept an expired TPS-related EAD issued under a prior Haitian TPS designation, along with a copy of the December 9, 2020 Federal Register notice, an eligible expired TPS EAD, and any other required I-9 documents.  The December 2020 Federal Register notice provides specific instructions on proper completion of an I-9 form to reflect an automatically extended TPS EAD. 

Relaxed employment authorization rules for certain Haitian students in F-1 status

Separately, Haitian citizens in lawful F-1 student status will benefit from relaxed employment authorization rules if they are experiencing severe economic hardship due to the Haitian crisis. Eligible students can request employment authorization, work an increased number of hours while school is in session and reduce their course load while continuing to maintain a “full course of study” designation. To qualify, F-1 students must establish that they:

  • Are citizens of Haiti;

  • Are lawfully present in the United States in F-1 status on August 3, 2021;

  • Are enrolled in an academic institution that is Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified;

  • Are currently maintaining F-1 status; and

  • Are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the current crisis in Haiti. 

    F-1 students who receive authorization from their Designated Service Officer (DSO) to work off-campus must apply for an EAD by submitting the required application form and corresponding fee. F-1 students who will be working on-campus do not need to file for an EAD, but do require DSO authorization. 

Looking ahead

The new designation of TPS for Haiti means that beneficiaries who submit a timely application and receive an approval may work and remain in the United States through February 3, 2023. Prior to the conclusion of the 18-month extension, the DHS Secretary will review conditions to determine whether Haiti’s TPS designation should be extended again. Haitian citizens in F-1 status should reach out to their school’s DSO to determine whether they can avail themselves of the relaxed employment authorization standards.

 

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.