WASHINGTON D.C., United States, Friday December 28, 2012 – The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has formally extended the re-registration period for Haitian nationals living in the US who have already been granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and seeking to maintain that status for an additional 18 months.
“Given the impact Hurricane Sandy has had on regions where Haitians reside, the re-registration period is extended through January 29, 2013. Haitian TPS beneficiaries are strongly encouraged to apply as soon as possible,” the agency said.
Under the extension, USCIS said it would also accept applications from eligible Haitians, who have already applied after the close of the re-registration period on November 30, 2012 and will continue to accept applications through January 29, next year.
The initial, 60-day re-registration period was established after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced in October an 18-month extension of the TPS designation of Haiti, from January 23, 2013, through July 22, 2014.
USCIS said about 60,000 Haitian nationals, and people having no nationality that last habitually resided in Haiti, are eligible for TPS re-registration.
The agency warned that TPS is not available to Haitian nationals who entered the United States after January 12, 2011.
However, USCIS said a biometric services fee, or a fee-waiver request, is required for all re-registrants 14 years of age and older.
“Failure to submit the required filing fees or a properly documented fee-waiver request will result in the rejection of the re-registration application,” the immigration agency cautioned.
Caribbean legislators in the United States, who had appealed to President Barack Obama for the extension, warmly welcomed the move.
“I want to thank President Obama, Secretary Napolitano, and USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas for their leadership and continued support of Haiti and its nationals,” Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).
“The extension of the TPS deadline for Haitian nationals ensures that all eligible applicants will have adequate time to apply,” added the Democratic Representative for the predominantly Caribbean 11th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York.
Clarke said after the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy in New York and the surrounding region, several members of the US Congress signed a letter urging for the extension of the November 30 deadline.
She said nearly three years after the massive earthquake that ravaged Haiti, the situation in the French-speaking Caribbean country has not improved, stating that tent camps and the cholera epidemic “continue to linger as threats to the recovery efforts”.
New York City Councilman Dr. Mathieu Eugene, the first ever Haitian to be elected to the Council, said he, too, had “reached out” to President Obama to extend the TPS deadline for Haitians.
“Due to the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy on October 29, transportation systems were temporarily suspended, travel was unadvised, and daily activities were impossible during the height of the re-application period,” said the representative for the 40th Council District in Brooklyn.
“The compassion demonstrated by this extension represents the very ideals our country was founded on: one nation from many. We share a history of the legacy left by our immigrant forefathers, and now we will share a future built by our sons and daughters,” he said. (CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)