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Information for U.S. Citizens Returning From Haiti

U.S. Repatriation Program

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families (ACF) runs a program in partnership with states to help U.S. citizens living abroad to return home in  times of crisis and emergency such as the recent Haiti earthquake. This program run by the ACF Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), is called the U.S. Repatriation Program. It helps eligible U.S. citizens in their time of need with temporary assistance to cover necessary goods and services immediately following their return to the U.S.

HHS partners with local and state governments, which provide necessary social services and overall assistance in such relief efforts. 

There were approximately 45,000 U.S. citizens in Haiti when the earthquake occurred, and it remains unclear how many of these citizens will seek repatriation.

Goods and Services Provided

Repatriated U.S. citizens and their dependents who are without available resources may receive temporary assistance for up to 90 days after their arrival. If the repatriated citizen is incapable of self-support or self-care for such reasons as age, disability, or lack of vocational preparation, temporary assistance may be extended for up to nine additional months upon authorization by ACF/ORR.

Temporary assistance is defined as:

  • Cash payments
  • Temporary shelter
  • Transportation, including but not limited to transportation from the initial arrival site to an interim site, and from the interim site to a final destination selected by the repatriate
  • Medical care, including counseling

Other goods and services necessary for the health or welfare of repatriates following entry to the U.S. such as: clothing, telephone access, childcare, etc. 

Temporary assistance is typically provided to eligible individuals in the form of a loan to be repaid to the U.S. Government. Under regulations implementing U.S. Repatriation Program legislation; however, recipients of repatriation loans may apply to defer or waive repayment of their loans.

Program Process and Status

Overseas, the Department of State conducts an initial assessment to identify eligible repatriates and ensures their transportation to the U.S.  Upon arrival in the U.S., provision of temporary assistance for repatriates becomes the responsibility of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), within which the Administration for Children and Families’ (ACF) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) takes the lead.

ACF/ORR has joint agreements in place with states to offer resources and staff, for which they are reimbursed by ACF/ORR contingent on available funding.  Staff from states, and/or ACF/ORR greet all incoming repatriates on arrival and immediately assess repatriates to determine goods or services needed.  The U.S. Repatriation Program is funded at $1 million per year, a cap that has typically been waived or expanded by Congress during a crisis.

On Wednesday, January 27, the President signed into law the Emergency Aid to Survivors of the Haiti Earthquake Act.  The act amends title XI of the Social Security Act (SSA) to increase the funding cap under the U.S. Repatriation Program to $25 million for FY2010 for temporary assistance to U.S. citizens (and their dependents) returning from foreign countries in the event of destitution, illness, war, threat of war, invasion, or similar crisis.

This Act includes funding from the federal government to reimburse local and state governments for social services and overall assistance provided in such relief efforts.

The United States House of Representatives approved S. 2949 on Tuesday, January 26, 2010.

President Obama signed the bill into law on Wednesday, January 27, 2010. 

Go to the Administration for Children and Families – Office of Refugee Resettlement Web site for more information on services and resources available. 

Evacuation and Rescue Efforts of U.S. Citizens in Haiti

U.S. Embassy in Haiti

Evacuation Procedures

Commercial passenger airline services from Port-au-Prince will resume on February 19, 2010. The U.S. Embassy in Haiti advises U.S. citizens to make their own travel arrangements to return to the United States. U.S. government evacuation flights will end shortly. For additional information on how to leave Haiti read the following press release.

Planned Resumption of Commercial Passenger Airline Service and Cessation of Evacuation Flights – February 16, 2010

American Citizens Services

The U.S. Embassy in Haiti has now resumed routine American Citizens Services as of February 1, 2010. U.S. citizens seeking services for passports, Reports of Death of Americans Abroad, or in need of any other notarials should contact the American Citizens Services unit to make an appointment by calling 509-2229-8000 or by sending an email to acspap@state.gov.

For more information about the restored embassy services available to U.S. citizens in Haiti read the following press release.

Resumption of Routine American Services – January 29, 2010

Immigrant Visa Services

The U.S. Embassy in Haiti has now resumed U.S. Immigrant Visa Services appointments as of February 3, 2010. Only previously scheduled immigrant visa applicants who have already received letters from the National Visa Center with an interview date and time are affected.

Immigrant visa beneficiaries can contact the Immigrant Visa Services consular section to schedule a new appointment by calling the call center at the following numbers: 3859-9524, 3859-9534, 3859-9564.

Or send an email to PaPCons@state.gov and make sure to write your name and case number on the subject line.

For further questions about visas, change of address, visa petitions, and related information regarding the visa application process you are encouraged to visit the Immigrant Visas section of the U.S. Embassy in Haiti Web site. Specific instructions, additional contact information, and hours of operation are all discussed on the following link.

Immigrant Visa Appointments to Resume – February 3, 2010