13 January 2011

Haitians without a US Visa face deportation in near future

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Haitians who took refuge with relatives in the US after last year’s devastating earthquake may be forced home as US Citizenship and Immigration Services is granting few visa extensions.


Haitians currently in the country with only a visitors' US Visa face the prospect of being returned to Haiti.

Many Haitians fled the country after the quake, using a visitor US Visa to stay with friends or relatives in the US.  Many of these visas are about to expire, forcing Haitians back to their home country where even a year after the quake, one million people are still living in tent cities and shantytowns around Port-au-Prince.

In April last year, US immigration officials said Haitians who fled the earthquake could apply for deferred action, a special immigration allowance that would enable them to stay and work for a fixed amount of time. However hundreds of applications are still unresolved nationwide.

Many Haitians had hoped the Obama administration would apply a designation, called temporary protected status, which would enable them to work in the US and to not be a burden on their families. However, that has not been the case despite previously a similar status being extended to Hondurans and Salvadorans who came to the United States after disasters in their countries.

Many refugee support workers predict that large numbers of Haitians will now disappear into the community, rather than return home.

The American Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their  ESTA application to the US Embassy.

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