With immigration reform stalled in Congress, I nevertheless have some good news to report for naturalization applicants and Haitians here in the United States.
For naturalization applicants, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that you can naturalize with an expired green card, if the expiration occurred within two years of your filing your N-400, Application for Naturalization. Under the new rule, if you apply for naturalization, USCIS will extend your green card validity for two years.
For naturalization applications filed Dec. 12 or after, your naturalization filing receipt will note the extension. If it takes USCIS more than two years to rule on your naturalization application, USCIS will provide a stamp in your passport as proof that your card was further extended.
Under the old rule, applicants whose cards had expired more than six months before they applied for naturalization had to apply for a new card before their naturalization interview. With the automatic extension, most applicants with expired cards can forgo applying for a new card.
Many USCS District Offices have ignored the six-month rule and naturalized applicants no matter when their card expired. Others have been following the six-month rule, now a two-year rule. Check with a local immigration law expert in your area if you have questions about the new rule.
The good news for Haitians is that the Department of Homeland Security has “redesignated” Temporary Protected Status for Haitians here since Nov. 6, 2022. The previous cutoff date was July 29, 2021.
DHS grants TPS to immigrants from countries where natural disaster, armed conflict or other “extraordinary and temporary conditions” makes it unsafe for them to return. TPS allows individuals to live and work here no matter whether they are otherwise legally here.
They also qualify for advanced parole — permission to return after travel abroad. TPS does not provide a direct path to permanent status, but if you get TPS, you may hold that status for years. As an example, DHS has extended TPS for those who have it through Aug. 3, 2024.
DHS first granted Haitians TPS in 2011 after the devastating earthquake that hit the island nation in 2010. You will be able to apply for TPS under the new designation once DHS issues the necessary regulation.
Allan Wernick is an attorney and Senior Legal Adviser to City University of New York’s Citizenship Now! project. Email questions and comments @allanwernick.com. Follow him on Twitter @awernick