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Ukrainians Already in the U.S. Can Apply for Temporary Protected Status

by Ally Bolour | Mar 15, 2022

temporary protected status for Ukranians

In response to Russia’s military invasion and the resulting humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced last week that Ukraine has been designated for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for an initial period of 18 months. Ukrainian nationals, along with those with no nationality who last habitually resided in Ukraine, will be able to apply to remain in the United States for the 18-month TPS period, as long as they have been continuously present here since March 1, 2022, and meet other eligibility requirements. Ukrainians arriving in the United States after March 1 will not be eligible for TPS.

What Is TPS?

The United States may designate a foreign country for TPS when conditions in that country temporarily prevent its nationals from returning safely or if the country is unable to adequately handle the return of its nationals. Situations that may trigger a TPS designation include armed conflict, epidemics, droughts, environmental disasters or other conditions of an extraordinary, temporary nature. TPS beneficiaries can apply for work authorization and in some cases may be granted travel authorization. 

However, TPS is a temporary benefit that does not in itself provide any other type of immigration status. Keep in mind that you may be eligible for an alternate, more permanent immigration status in addition to TPS. An experienced immigration lawyer can advise you on the best immigration option for you based on your unique circumstances. 

How To Apply for TPS

A Federal Register announcement detailing the exact dates of Ukraine’s 18-month TPS designation and the filing period, along with other details, will be issued shortly.

Generally speaking, TPS applicants must file Form I-821, Application for Protected Temporary Status. You may also file Form I-765, Request for Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which will allow you to work in the United States. Form I-765 can either be filed with Form I-821 or afterward, but submitting them at the same time will likely speed up the EAD process.

You must submit evidence of your identity and nationality, as well as documentation showing you entered the United States and that you have been here continuously since March 1, 2022.

After USCIS receives your forms along with supporting documents and fees, it will review your application for completeness and issue a receipt number, which you can use to check the status of your case online. Most TPS applicants will be notified that they must come to an Application Support Center at an appointed time to submit biometrics (photo, signature and/or fingerprints). 

Grounds for Ineligibility 

Applicants may be found ineligible for TPS if they have been convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States, or if they are found inadmissible as an immigrant under applicable grounds, including non-waivable criminal and security-related grounds. Failure to meet TPS application requirements in time can also result in ineligibility. If you are aware that a relevant ground of inadmissibility applies to you and you need a waiver to obtain TPS, you should include Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility with your application.  

Other Recent TPS Announcements

In addition to Ukraine, DHS recently announced a new designation of Sudan for TPS, amid political instability and unrest in that country, and an extension and redesignation of South Sudan for TPS, which currently has TPS designation due to ongoing armed conflict. 

The 18-month extension and redesignation of South Sudan for TPS will be in effect from May 3, 2022, through November 3, 2023. To be eligible to apply or reapply, individuals must have continuously resided in the United States since March 1, 2022, and meet all other TPS eligibility criteria. 

Sudan was also previously designated for TPS, but it was set to expire November 2, 2018. However, due to litigation, Sudan’s TPS has remained in effect, and existing Sudan beneficiaries retain their TPS status through December 31, 2022. To be eligible to apply or reapply for TPS under Sudan’s new designation – the exact dates of which are to be announced – individuals must have been continuously resided in the United States since March 1, 2022, in addition to meeting all other eligibility requirements.

Expert Advice

If you are a national of a TPS-designated country and wish to apply for TPS, consult an experienced immigration attorney, who can help ensure that you submit a thorough, accurate and timely application. As previously mentioned, a knowledgeable immigration attorney can also advise on you on whether you are eligible for additional immigration options based on your individual circumstances.

To speak with an immigration lawyer with expertise in TPS, contact Bolour/Carl Immigration Group at 323-857-0034 or [email protected].  

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