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Legal Immigration Avenues to Assist Ukrainian Nationals
Finnegan & Diba is committed to assisting as many Ukrainians as possible with their valiant effort to oppose the Russian unprovoked attack on Ukraine. The United States is providing support and humanitarian relief to Ukrainian nationals in need both in the United States and abroad and it has opened up legal immigration avenues to assist those Ukrainian refugees in need of escape.
To protect Ukrainians residing in the U.S., the Secretary of Homeland Security designated Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months. This will allow Ukrainians here since March 1, 2022 to stay and apply for employment authorization in the U.S. To provide pathways to the United States for Ukrainians seeking refuge, DHS is working to expand current legal pathways and develop new programs in support of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to displaced Ukrainians. We are coordinating our efforts closely with our European allies and partners who are on the frontlines of this humanitarian crisis.
Temporary Protected Status
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas designated Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months. This new designation will enable Ukrainian nationals (and individuals without nationality who last resided in Ukraine) who have been residing in the United States prior to March 1, 2022, to remain here during the designated period and apply for employment authorization, so long as they meet eligibility requirements.
Once published in the Federal Register, instructions for applying for TPS and an Employment Authorization Document will be available on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. Information on how to apply for TPS and an Employment Authorization Document can be found here: fdlegal.com
Ukrainian nationals currently in the United States who are not able to return to Ukraine because they have been persecuted or fear that they will be persecuted on account of their nationality, race, religion, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, generally may apply for asylum. These applications should be filed with USCIS if they are not currently in removal proceedings. Information on how to apply for asylum in the U.S. can be found by contacting a knowledgeable American immigration attorney.
U.S. Refugee Admissions Program
The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) is an inter-agency effort involving several governmental and non-governmental partners, both overseas and domestically, whose mission is to resettle refugees in the United States. The U.S. Department of State’s (DOS) Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) has overall management responsibility for the USRAP and has the lead in proposing admissions numbers and processing priorities.
Within DHS, USCIS has responsibility for interviewing refugee applicants and adjudicating applications for refugee status. Through its cooperative agreements with Resettlement Support Centers (RSC), PRM handles the intake of refugee referrals from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), U.S. embassies, and certain non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as well as the prescreening of cases and the out-processing of individuals for travel to the United States. The U.S. Government currently has a Priority 2 direct access program for Ukrainians under the Lautenberg Act. This category includes Jews, Evangelical Christians, and Ukrainian Catholic and Orthodox religious adherents.
Ukrainians who arrive at the United States-Mexico border are currently being granted one year Humanitarian Parole visas. Individuals may request parole for themselves or on behalf of another individual who is outside the United States based on urgent humanitarian or significant public benefit reasons. Parole allows an individual to temporarily enter the United States and apply for employment authorization, but it does not confer immigration status or provide a path to lawful immigration status.
Parole is discretionary and issued on a case-by-case basis and should not be requested to avoid normal visa-issuing procedures, inadmissibility waiver processing, or established refugee processing channels. Parole is not intended to replace established refugee processing channels. In general, a refugee may not be paroled into the United States absent compelling reasons in the public interest with respect to that particular refugee. Ukrainians qualify for 100,000 humanitarian parole visas per year according to the White House.
Special Situations and Expedited Processing
USCIS announced a series of immigration flexibilities that may help people affected by extreme situations, including the invasion of Ukraine. Finnegan & Diba are experts at priority filing. USCIS is also proactively prioritizing the processing of certain applications and petitions filed by Ukrainian nationals. DHS will additionally suspend certain regulatory requirements for Ukrainians, such as Title 42 rules which are now suspended by US DHS in order to benefit Ukrainians.
Ukrainian Students – F-1 visa holders
Students from the Ukraine who are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the ongoing armed conflict in Ukraine are now eligible for additional immigration benefits and certain penalties and requirements have also now been waived for them. Keep up to date with immigration benefits are available by registering on F&D’s e-mail listserve for Ukraine.