The Department of Homeland Security really stepped up to the plate by recently re-designating Haiti as a country for TPS, or Temporary Protected Status. Although TPS is not a grant of permanent residence, it does authorize nationals of countries designated by USCIS to stay here and obtain a work permit, due to extraordinary conditions in their home country. In the case of Haiti, many Haitians who were in the United States were obviously displaced due to the catastrophic 7.0 earthquake in January 2010. However, the original regulations required individuals to have been here in the US on January 12, 2010. As a result, those who could not prove physical presence here on or before that date were not eligible for protection. Now with the re-designation, USCIS has signaled that it remains sympathetic to nationals affected by natural disasters. Haitians who already have TPS will have until August of 2011 to re-register. Those who wish to register for the first time must demonstrate that they have been physically present and have continuously resided in the US since January 12, 2011; this class of individuals will have until November 15, 2011. Any individual who feels that he/she qualifies for TPS should contact USCIS or consult with a qualified and licensed immigration attorney, as proof of presence can sometimes be an issue in and of itself.
All in all, though, a refreshing and timely piece of good news for those still affected by that horrendous quake.