WASHINGTON, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Haitian nationals living temporarily in the United States have been given more time to apply to stay longer because of Hurricane Sandy, U.S. officials say.
Under the extension granted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Thursday Haitian nationals who have temporary protected status have until Jan. 29 to apply to remain in the United States for another 18 months, The Miami Herald reported. The deadline had been Nov. 30.
The agency said about 60,000 people are eligible for protected status re-registration. Haitian nationals who entered the United States after Jan. 12, 2011, cannot apply for temporary protected status, the agency said.
U.S. officials of Caribbean descent had urged U.S. President Barack Obama to approve the extension, Caribbean 360.com reported.
"I want to thank President Obama, Secretary [Homeland Security Secretary Janet] Napolitano and USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas for their leadership and continued support of Haiti and its nationals," U.S. Rep. Yvette D. Clarke, D-N.Y., the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, told the Caribbean Media Corp.
"The extension of the TPS deadline for Haitian nationals ensures that all eligible applicants will have adequate time to apply."
New York City Councilman Mathieu Eugene, the first Haitian elected to the council, said he also had reached out to Obama.
"Due to the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 29, transportation systems were temporarily suspended, travel was unadvised and daily activities were impossible during the height of the re-application period," he said.
"The compassion demonstrated by this extension represents the very ideals our country was founded on: one nation from many. We share a history of the legacy left by our immigrant forefathers, and now we will share a future built by our sons and daughters."