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29 January 2010

Visiting the Haitian-American Community in New York


As I write this, I am boarding a plane on my way home from New York City. While there, it was my privilege to join Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor David Patterson in announcing the creation of the New York Haitian Earthquake Family Resource Center at the New York National Guard Armory at 1579 Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn.

The center will open its doors on Monday, February 1 and provide a number of services, including:
  • Creole-speaking interpretation services
  • Assistance with completing Temporary Protected Status applications
  • Access to telephones to contact appropriate federal and Haitian officials
  • Public use of computers for consulting a broad range of websites, including New York State's Registry of New York Citizens in Haiti;
  • Child guardianship and custody services
  • Legal assistance
  • Mental health services
As all of us work hard everyday to reduce the pain, suffering, and stress caused by the devastation and destruction of the earthquake in Haiti, I want to urge those who are eligible to apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to use the resources available to them in New York and on our website. Also, please be careful not to fall prey to individuals seeking to take advantage of those in need. For example, forms can be downloaded from our website or ordered via telephone at 1-800-870-3676 for free. No one should have to pay anyone else to obtain these forms.

Before heading to the airport, I took the opportunity to discuss the impact of the earthquakes on Haitians and their families in the United States during an interview on Radyo Pa Nou, a Haitian-American radio station headquartered in New York City. I discussed how Haitians can get help with TPS applications and answered questions from the Haitian community. I'm glad I had the opportunity to speak to people affected by this tragedy and I promise that USCIS will continue to do its best to help them.

Alejandro Mayorkas
Director, USCIS

Update: The USCIS website now offers videos on TPS for Haitians in Creole, French and English.

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21 January 2010

A Message from Director Mayorkas

Our hearts are with you, the people of Haiti. The tragedy you have endured, the losses you have suffered, and the uncertainties you are facing affect us deeply.

The feelings we share with you are defining our actions. Today we launch this blog to provide you with one more way that you can learn about our Temporary Protected Status program. One section of our website, http://www.uscis.gov/, is devoted to the TPS program and the information there can be found in English, French, and Creole. Our personnel are working our toll-free phone lines from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. The number is 1-800-375-5283. We will continue to do everything we can.

On this blog, please ask us questions, raise issues, and express your concerns. We are here to help you in this time of great need.

Our hearts are with you.

Alejandro Mayorkas
Director

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Temporary Protected Status Haiti

The devastating earthquakes in Haiti have made it both dangerous and virtually impossible for most Haitian nationals living in the U.S. to return to their country in the near future. To help protect those who might otherwise be repatriated to a nation struggling to recover, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced the designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian nationals who were in the United States as of January 12, 2010.

TPS provides temporary immigration status for a specific amount of time to people of a particular nation impacted by extreme events such as wars, earthquakes or hurricanes.

For Haiti, the TPS registration period is open January 21, 2010 until July 20, 2010. You can find information and instructions on how to apply on the USCIS website. To qualify, you must:
  • Be a national of Haiti, or a person without nationality who last resided in Haiti
  • Have continuously resided in the U.S. since January 12, 2010
  • Have been continuously present in the U.S. since January 21, 2010 (the date of the Federal Register Notice)
  • Meet certain immigrant admissibility requirements, and other TPS eligibility requirements as required by law
  • Satisfactorily complete all TPS application procedures as described in the Federal Register notice announcing Haitian TPS
  • Have not been convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors in the United States
  • Not be subject to other criminal and security-related bars to asylum
You can find more information, as well as information in French and Creole on our 'USCIS Responds to Haiti Earthquake' page. There we have gathered the necessary forms, filing tips, an overview of TPS requirements and the registration process, and general information on other potential relief options. To see what filing and biometrics fees apply to you, please see the chart on the TPS-Haiti page.

Please remember that all TPS applicants must file Form I-765. If you do not want employment authorization, you will not have to pay a filing fee for Form I-765.
Be aware that individuals posing as legal professionals may attempt to take advantage of you by charging an additional fee for filing your applications forms. You can view a list of accredited representatives here.

Needless to say, we all share the concerns and sympathies of Director Mayorkas in this time of great need and will do our part to assist Haiti in its recovery effort.

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