As Haiti continues to struggle in the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes of January 12, 2010, the United States remains fully committed to uphold our humanitarian responsibility to aid people affected by the tragedy.
Toward this end, the U.S. is temporarily extending and re-designating protected immigration status to those who fled the difficult conditions there before and shortly after the disaster, to ease strains on the Haitian government as it continues working to rebuild the country and to shelter some of the displaced.
Haitians who received Temporary Protected Status after last year's earthquake will be allowed an additional year and a half to live and work in the U.S. as Haiti recovers, until January 22, 2013. Without an extension, protected status for those who fled the earthquake, who are estimated to number about 48,000, would have expired this July.
Additionally, those Haitians who arrived before January 12 of this year, and who can prove continued residency in the U.S., will be eligible for this 18-month Temporary Protected Status. Many who fall into this category are believed to have come here seeking medical treatment.
The extension and re-designation only applies to those eligible Haitians who have resided continuously here since January 12, 2011. Haitians who are not currently in the U.S. should not attempt to enter the U.S. to try to apply for immigration protection. They will be repatriated. Nor should people put their lives at risk by embarking on a dangerous sea voyage that could compound the tragedy of the January 2010 disaster.
TPS re-designation has been employed sparingly in recent years, aiding people in crisis fleeing turmoil in Somalia, Sudan and Liberia. Concerned that Haitian immigrants' personal safety would be endangered by returning to the island nation now, we are offering it to our neighbors from Haiti as well.