WASHINGTON — Thousands of Haitian immigrants approved to move to the United States to join relatives already living here will soon be able to immigrate before a visa is available, the Obama administration announced Friday.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Homeland Security Department agency that oversees immigration benefits cases, said the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program will allow Haitians who are scheduled to receive a visa within two years to move to the U.S. While they are waiting for their visas, the immigrants will be granted a work permit, USCIS said.
A limited number of family-based immigrant visas are issued yearly and in some cases approved would-be immigrants from Haiti can wait more than a decade for a visa to become available.
Starting in early 2015 the State Department's National Visa Center will notify Haitians already living in the in the United States that their relatives may be eligible to come to the U.S. sooner. USCIS said only those people contacted by the government will be eligible for the program.
It is unclear how many immigrants may benefit from the program initially. There are about 90,000 Haitians already approved to come to the U.S. and waiting for a visa.