U.S. Extends Temporary Protected Status for Haiti

haiti-passport

The Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, has announced the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is extending the designation of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for an additional 18 months. The extended designation is effective January 23, 2016 through July 22, 2017. The extension allows currently eligible TPS beneficiaries to retain TPS through July 22, 2017, so long as they otherwise continue to meet the eligibility requirements for TPS.

Haiti was initially designated for TPS on January 21, 2010, after a major earthquake devastated the country. The Secretary has determined that an extension is warranted because the conditions in Haiti that prompted the TPS designation are still prevalent. There continue to be extraordinary and temporary conditions in that country that prevent Haitian nationals from returning safely to Haiti.

Re-Registration

The 60-day re-registration period runs from August 25, 2015 through October 26, 2015. Re-registration is limited to Haitian nationals who have previously registered for TPS and whose applications have been granted. US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) encourages beneficiaries to re-register as soon as possible once the 60-day re-registration period begins.

Certain nationals of Haiti who have not previously applied for TPS may be eligible to apply under the late initial registration provisions if they meet (1) at least one of the late initial filing criteria, and (2) all TPS eligibility criteria (including continuous residence in the United States since January 12, 2011, and continuous physical presence in the United States since July 23, 2011).

Work Authorization

The 18-month extension also allows TPS re-registrants to apply for a new employment authorization documents. USCIS will issue new EADs with a July 22, 2017 expiration date to eligible Haiti TPS beneficiaries who timely re-register and apply for EADs under this extension.

Given the timeframes involved with processing TPS re-registration applications, DHS recognizes that not all re-registrants will receive new EADs before their current EADs expire on January 22, 2016. Accordingly, DHS automatically extends the validity of EADs issued under the TPS designation of Haiti for 6 months, through July 22, 2016.

Foley Law Offices

Foley Law Offices is working with clients to re-register their TPS status and work authorization applications. If you are a Haitian national currently residing in the United States, or currently registered for TPS, please contact our office to learn more about registration and eligibility.

Our staff of attorneys may be reached by phone at (617) 973-6448 or email at attorney@foleylawoffices.com.

For further information on TPS, please visit the USCIS TPS page at: www.uscis.gov/tps.

SJC Holds Padilla to be Retroactive under Massachusetts Common Law and Article 12 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights

A unanimous opinion recently issued by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) may give some immigrants a shot at obtaining legal status.

In Commonwealth v. Sylvain, the SJC found that it is still the responsibility of the defense counsel to inform noncitizens clients of any possible immigration consequences. According to Padilla v. Kentucky and Massachusetts law, this will be retroactive for all convictions ordered after April 1, 1997.

The Supreme Judicial Court also ordered that it was their duty to accurately instruct noncitizen defendants under article 12 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights.

What does this mean to you? It may mean that, even with criminal convictions, you may still be able to adjust status and obtain a Legal Resident/Green card. There is no blanket waiver and every case should be considered on its own merits.

If you have a criminal conviction that has prevented you from obtaining legal status, call for a consultation to determine if this SJC decision opens the door for you.

Foley Law Files Same Sex Adjustment Case

We have filed our first same-sex adjustment of status marriage case following the groundbreaking decision from the U. S. Supreme Court (United States v. Windsor) that ruled the Defense of Marriage Act (commonly referred to as “DOMA”) was unconstitutional. DOMA had barred same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits including immigration benefits.

The Courts’ decision means spouses of U.S. citizens or Legal Permanent Residents (also known as Green card holders) can now acquire benefits that were previously denied to them because their same-sex marriage was not fully recognized by the federal government.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is now reviewing immigration petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse “in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse.”

In my case, the couple met while they were in college. They have been together for over five years and they recently celebrated their second wedding anniversary.

I was pleased to be able to tell them “your case will be handled like any other adjustment case. The fact that you are a same sex couple no longer matters.”