DHS Announces Temporary Protective Status for Ukraine for 18 Months
March 21, 2022
Article by Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C.
March 21, 2022
On March 3, 2022, Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that Temporary Protected Status for Ukraine is now in effect for 18 months.
Secretary Mayorkas stated: “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.”
Under this new designation for Ukraine, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) can be granted to Ukrainians when they file Form I-821. Those applying must have been in the United States since March 1, 2022. Individuals from Ukraine or Ukrainian nationals who have attempted to enter the United States after March 1, 2022, are ineligible for the Ukraine TPS.
According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an 18-month temporary protected status for Ukraine will officially go into effect with a Federal Register notice. The Federal Register notice will provide information about the TPS application process and Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
Temporary Protective Status is granted to nationals of countries that are designated as TPS countries. If you are a Ukrainian national and were in the United States before March 1, 2022, you can now apply for TPS for 18 months.
Countries are designated TPS countries when they fall into one of three categories:
DHS has granted temporary protected status for Ukraine under the conditions of both:
Russia’s unprecedented, unprovoked attacks and military invasion of Ukraine have resulted in a dangerous, unsafe, and insecure place for Ukrainian citizens and residents. As such, Ukrainian nationals are no longer able to safely return to Ukraine.
Those who reside in Ukraine are fleeing out of necessity, as close to a million people in Ukraine are now deprived of shelter, emergency medical services, food, and water. The current and continuing effects of Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine is causing an ongoing humanitarian crisis.
Since the Biden Administration has now granted TPS for Ukraine, the approximately 30,000 Ukrainians who are currently in the United States will be protected, meaning they needn’t fear returning to a country that is now a war zone.
Ukraine TPS ensures there will be no repercussions for Ukrainians who are granted TPS in the United States. Ukrainian nationals here in the United States will not have to worry about U.S. removal proceedings (deportation).
TPS permits those in the United States to stay here legally. As an additional note, you cannot be granted citizenship via TPS status.
However, if there is any record of you in the United States illegally for six months or longer—meaning you were living in the U.S. without TPS—you may be found inadmissible if you wish to apply for a green card in the future. Therefore, applying for temporary protected status right away is in your best interest to be able to legally reside in the U.S.
Political asylum is a bit different. In some cases, people may be eligible for both TPS and asylum at the same time. Political asylum is granted to individuals who fear persecution upon return to a country on the basis of their:
Asylum seekers cannot apply for an EAD work authorization while applying for asylum. TPS, on the other hand, allows employment authorization.
Once granted asylum, the asylum status holder may apply for a green card one year after their asylum was granted. TPS recipients may not apply for a green card.
Ukraine’s TPS does not apply to the over one million Ukrainian citizens who are leaving their home country to seek refuge around Europe. Even though “new” (post-March 1, 2022) Ukrainian refugees are fleeing their now violence-ridden country, they will not be able to enter the United States under the Ukraine TPS.
Ukrainian nationals currently in the U.S. are now eligible for protection under TPS, not political asylum.
Before we get any further, let’s first break down the main difference between an asylum seeker and a refugee. Although these terms are often used interchangeably, there are differences between an asylum seeker and a refugee.
A refugee is a person who is also at risk of persecution and has left their country because of the danger there. Because of the threat to their safety, refugees are forced to leave their country. Protection cannot be sought in their own country, meaning a refugee must find safety elsewhere.
An asylum seeker is not legally recognized as a refugee but is still seeking protection from persecution in another country. A person may be granted asylum for individual persecution. Asylum status can be granted to a person when they are already in the United States or at a port of entry.
Immigrant visas allow individuals to permanently work and live in the United States. When granted an immigrant visa—or “green card”—a person is allowed to live freely in the U.S. until the visa expires.
Political asylum is a type of immigrant visa. Temporary Protected Status is not, as it does not grant permanent residency. TPS is a non-immigrant visa
To apply for TPS, you must use Form I-821. The form is one of two immigration forms TPS seekers can apply for. The other is an EAD, discussed below.
In order to apply for TPS using Form I-821, Ukrainian nationals and other TPS country nationals must:
Like all applicants for TPS, Ukrainian temporary protected status seekers need to meet eligibility criteria and pass a background check.
In addition to completing Form I-821 for TPS, petitioners are also eligible to apply for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. You can apply for an EAD either at the same time as you file Form I-821 or afterward.
The immigration attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. have lots of experience with Form I-821. We understand that is a frightening and upsetting time—one that seems to have many questions without answers as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues upending millions of Ukrainian people’s lives.
If you are a Ukrainian national who came to the United States before March 1, 2022, you are eligible to file Form I-821, as Ukraine TPS is now in effect.
We can help you file your application and fully understand your rights. If you have any questions about TPS Ukraine, USCIS filing, or your TPS eligibility, contact us at 312.444.1940 or fill out an online contact form today.