The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a foreign country for TPS (Temporary Protected Status) due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately. TPS provides beneficiaries with a temporary immigration status enabling them to remain in the United States and obtain employment authorization for a designated period of time. TPS status has been available to Haitians since January 2010 when a major earthquake caused severe damage to the region.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced an 18-month extension of TPS for eligible nationals of Haiti from July 23, 2011 to January 22, 2013. USCIS will be publishing a separate announcement regarding extension procedures including the automatic extension of employment authorization of certain TPS employment authorization documents (EADs). Employers need to be mindful of the automatic six-month extension of employment authorization when hiring these TPS beneficiaries or reverifying the employment authorization of affected TPS employees on Form I-9. The upcoming Federal Register notice will automatically extend EADs bearing the annotation “A-19” or “C-12” under “Category” and an expiration date of July 22, 2011 for current Haitian TPS beneficiaries. These individuals’ employment authorization will be automatically extended from six months through January 22, 2012 according to the Federal Register announcement. In accordance with previous guidance regarding TPS extensions, it is expected that USCIS will encourage affected Haitian TPS beneficiaries to present a copy of the applicable Federal Register notice to employers to establish employment authorization during the six-month extension period.