DHS Initiates Haitian Family Reunification Program in 201506 Nov 2014
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced plans for a Haitian Family Reunification Program (HFRP), which will allow some Haitian nationals who are the beneficiaries of family-based petitions to enter the United States while the cases are still pending. The program is expected to start in early 2015.
Humanitarian Basis for Program
The legal basis for the creation of this program is tied to the authority of the DHS to grant paroled entry for humanitarian reasons. The purpose of the program, as explained by the DHS Deputy Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, is to support the rebuilding and development of a safe and economically strong Haiti after the devastating earthquake four years ago. Deputy Secretary Mayorkas believes this can be accomplished by allowing eligible Haitians to legally immigrate to the United States more quickly than the normal process allows.
Benefits Under HFRP
As many readers know, there are often lengthy wait times for visa number availability in the family- based (FB) immigration categories. Normally, the beneficiary of such a petition must wait for the visa numbers to be available, or current, in order to obtain immigration benefits resulting from that familial relationship. For beneficiaries living abroad, this wait typically occurs outside the United States. The HFRP will allow certain Haitian FB beneficiaries to spend part of the waiting period in the U.S., during which time they will also be eligible to apply for employment authorization. Although some of the specific details of the HFRP have not yet been released, the announcement indicates that eligible Haitians will be permitted to enter the U.S. approximately two years before their respective priority dates are expected to become current.
Program to Start in 2015, More Details Coming
At the time of this writing, the DHS is not yet accepting applications for the HFRP. The announcement indicates that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will issue complete program details by the end of calendar year 2014. In early 2015, the U.S. Department of State National Visa Center (NVC) will begin to contact U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who have filed and obtained approvals of FB petitions for Haitian family members who may be eligible for benefits under the HFRP.
DHS Warnings Discourage Illegal Entry into U.S.
The DHS warned Haitians against trying to enter the United States illegally, noting that such individuals will not be eligible for relief under the HFRP. There is no change in the current enforcement policy regarding returning to Haiti any Haitians who are found at sea. This program simply provides some relief to those undergoing the standard FB immigration process.
Haiti was devastated by an earthquake over four years ago, leading the United States to grant eligible Haitians temporary protected status (TPS). The HFRP is another way the U.S. is making efforts to assist people from this neighboring country. It should further be noted that this humanitarian relief does not delay or take away any benefits that are due others also awaiting FB visa numbers. MurthyDotCom will post additional information on the HFRP as it becomes available.
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