As Russia continues to wage war on Ukraine, the Department of Homeland Security announced on March 3, 2022, that it will grant temporary protected status to Ukrainians fleeing the conflict in their home country. Keep reading for more information.
The DHS Announcement
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in the statement released on March 3rd,
“Russia’s premeditated and unprovoked attack on Ukraine has resulted in an ongoing war, senseless violence, and Ukrainians forced to seek refuge in other countries. In these extraordinary times, we will continue to offer our support and protection to Ukrainian nationals in the United States.”
The statement comes after a coalition of senators and immigrat8ion advocates signed a letter urging the Biden administration to designate Ukraine for temporary protected status. This designation would provide protection and support for Ukrainians who have fled their homes during the conflict that has been brewing for many years.
What is Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?
The Secretary of Homeland Security has the power to designate a country for temporary protected status in light of circumstances that would prevent a foreign national from returning to their home country safely. In conjunction with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the DHS Secretary can grant this protection to all or part of a country’s population who already reside in the United States. In other words, the USCIS may issue TPS to foreign nationals living in America if the situation back home is unsafe.
TPS may be designated based on the following conditions:
- Environmental disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, or epidemics
- Ongoing armed conflicts like war with another nation or a civil war
- Other “extraordinary and temporary conditions”
Qualifying migrants must not be removable from the U.S. and granted employment authorization and travel permissions. This program allows displaced migrants to qualify for nonimmigrant visas, adjustment of status, or apply to other immigrant benefit programs they may be eligible for during their time under TPS.
Defining “extraordinary and temporary conditions” is the responsibility of the Department of Homeland Security, but historically, TPS has also been designated for nationals fleeing from economic collapse and deadly pandemics. How the DHS decides to grant temporary protected status occurs on a case-by-case basis with much consideration.
What TPS Means for Ukrainian Migrants
Temporary protected status is different from refugee or asylum programs because it is a temporary immigration status that depends on the longevity of the unsafe situation in the foreign nation. Asylum, on the other hand, takes into consideration individual circumstances for all people seeking refuge in the United States. In other words, if an earthquake hits an island nation, but they can recover infrastructure and order within six months, the temporary protected status would be removed within that period.
For Ukrainian nationals, the U.S. has granted TPS to all who were already present in the United States on March 1, 2022, not those fleeing from the escalating conflict. So, Ukrainians leaving Ukraine after March 1st are not under temporary protected status.
While this program does not provide permanent protection per se, historically, those who receive TPS, often remain in the United States indefinitely and pursue adjustment of status and work visas which are more permanent reasons to stay.
How the Government Is Preparing
So far, the government has been methodical about issuing temporary protected status, but there are representatives and members of the Biden Administration who are pushing for a restructuring of the refugee resettlement infrastructure to better accommodate those seeking safety from the Russian attack.
While the administration is still working through the implications of the war in Ukraine, many nonprofit immigrant advocacy programs are waiting to step in and assist those entering the country with food, housing, and integration.
Apply for Temporary Protected Status
To receive TPS, migrants must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- The individual must be a national of a country designated for TPS
- They must file during open registration or the reregistration period
- They must be continuously present in the United States since the effective date of designation (for Ukrainians, this date is March 1, 2022)
If the requirements are met, the individual may file Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status. Once Form I-821 is filed, the applicant may apply for work eligibility with Form I-765, Request for Employment Authorization. For this application to be accepted, both forms must be filed together.
The USCIS and DHS require identity and national evidence, like a Ukrainian passport and/or birth certificate along with evidence of the date of entry and continuous residence. An I-94 Arrival/Departure record satisfies the date of entry requirement and rent receipts and employment records can be used to verify continuous residence.
Fees apply for first-time applicants and those who want employment authorization or a waiver of grounds of inadmissibility. All fees must be paid at the time of registration or re-registration. In some cases, an applicant may qualify for a fee waiver by filing Form I-912, Application for Fee Waiverwith their other documents.
A word of caution: scammers exist to take advantage of those fleeing disaster and destruction. These unauthorized practitioners may convince migrants that they can help file TPS forms but exploit them and take their money instead. You should pursue immigration status with the help of an attorney but be sure to verify the lawyer’s credentials before starting a working relationship.
Entrust Your TPS Case to Our Licensed Attorneys
At Nathan Christensen P.C., we believe in providing our clients with compassionate counsel and guidance through the most difficult time in their lives. Our licensed TPS and immigration attorneys have dedicated their lives and careers to helping migrants establish a new life in the United States while advocating for their best interests. Our firm is highly respected in the community, and we have helped thousands of families pursue their American Dream.
Schedule a consultation with Nathan Christensen P.C. to find out how we can help you file for temporary protected status.