In May, USCIS extended temporary protected status (TPS) designations for Honduras and Nicaragua for 18 months, effective July 6, 2010 through January 5, 2012, and announced that the 60-day re-registration period runs from May 5, 2010 through July 5, 2010. Accordingly, eligible Hondurans and Nicaraguans must re-register by July 5, 2010 in order to maintain TPS status. Re-registration, however, is limited to persons who already registered for TPS under the previous designations and whose applications have been granted or remain pending. Certain nationals of Honduras and Nicaragua (or those having no nationality who last habitually resided in those countries) who have not previously applied for TPS may be eligible to apply under the late initial registration provisions. USCIS announced that new employment authorization documents (EADs) with a January 5, 2012 expiration date would be issued to eligible TPS beneficiaries who timely re-register and apply for EADs. But, given the timeframes involved with processing these applications, all re-registrants may not receive new EADs until after their current EADs expire on July 5, 2010 and thus USCIS is automatically extending the validity of current EADs for 6 months, or through January 5, 2011.
Questions about verification of employment authorization arise when an individual’s EAD has expired. Can, for example, such a TPS beneficiary use his or her expired card for I-9 employment authorization purposes? Yes. USCIS specifically advises that individuals whose EAD is automatically extended under these rules can still use their expired EAD for I-9 employment verification purposes with their employers. USCIS recommends that such employees provide the employer with a copy of the Federal Register notice stating the automatic extension of the EAD. However, if an auto-extended, TPS-based EAD is presented to an employer, the employer will be required to re-verify employment authorization on the I-9 form at the end of the automatic EAD extension period, or January 5, 2011. At that time, the employee will be required to present the new TPS-related EAD containing an updated, valid expiration date, or any other acceptable document evidencing employment authorization.
In granting the extension of TPS, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano had determined that the conditions that prompted TPS designation in 1999 following the environmental disaster caused by Hurricane Mitch persist and prevent Honduras and Nicaragua from adequately handling the return of its nationals. There are approximately 66,000 nationals of Honduras and 3,000 nationals of Nicaragua (and people having no nationality who last habitually resided in Honduras or Nicaragua) who may be effected and eligible for re-registration. TPS does not, however, apply to such nationals who entered the United States after December 30, 1998.
Meanwhile, Haitian nationals who have continuously resided in the United States since January 12, 2010 and who meet other TPS eligibility requirements must file their first time TPS registration applications no later than July 20, 2010. TPS was granted to eligible Haitian nationals in January in response to the January 12, 2010 earthquake that devastated much of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. TPS designation for Haiti will remain in effect through July 22, 2011.
USCIS advises that by early April it received almost 45,000 Haitian TPS application packages; however, more than 10% were rejected. The most common reasons for rejection include: (1) inappropriate fees or a fee waiver request; (2) missing biographical information; (3) lack of signatures on forms; and (4) filing an incorrect form.