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DHS Designates Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status

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The Department of Homeland Security designated Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months in response to what they’ve termed a “full-scale military invasion” of Ukraine by Russia and “the largest conventional military action in Europe since World War II.” The TPS designation will help protect Ukrainian nationals in the U.S. from deportation to a country under siege and into a conflict that has claimed hundreds of civilian lives and forced more than a million refugees to flee

What is Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?

Temporary Protected Status is a program that allows eligible foreign nationals from countries considered unsafe to legally live and work in the United States for a temporary period of time—in the case of Ukraine, 18 months—but does not provide a pathway to permanent residency. The DHS Secretary can extend the designation based on conditions of the country. TPS was created by Congress in 1990 and is given for one of the three following reasons:
  • Ongoing armed conflict 
  • Environmental disaster 
  • Extraordinary and temporary conditions 
With its designation, Ukraine becomes the 13th country designated for TPS, joining Burma, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen.
Before the designation of Ukraine, about 300,000 foreign nationals were in the country under TPS. According to a DHS estimate, the TPS designation will benefit more than 75,000 Ukrainians in the U.S. and include those here on temporary student, business, and tourist visas. It also includes roughly 4,000 Ukrainians facing deportation from the U.S., about 3,000 of which are asylum seekers.  

Why Ukraine Was Designated for TPS

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has created a humanitarian crisis as Ukrainians flee from fighting and damage to infrastructure, leaving many without necessities such as shelter, electricity, water, food, and medical services. As mentioned above, a million people have already fled the country and it’s only been a week. 
Furthermore, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has predicted the number of refugees could climb to more than four million as the invasion progresses and said in a statement, “I have worked in refugee emergencies for almost 40 years, and rarely have I seen an exodus as rapid as this one.” In the comments announcing Ukraine’s designation for TPS, DHS Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas remarked, “In these extraordinary times, we will continue to offer our support and protection to Ukrainian nationals in the United States.”

Who Qualifies for TPS?

Ukrainian nationals in the U.S. eligible for TPS under this designation must have been living in the U.S. since March 1, 2022—those who traveled to the U.S. after that date are not eligible. They must also meet certain statutory requirements, like passing security and background checks. Consequently, the designation of Ukraine for TPS doesn’t apply to the approximately one million refugees flooding into neighboring European countries. 
TPS designation for Ukraine will go into effect on the date it’s published in the Federal Register, something that has yet to occur. The notice in the Federal Register will also provide instructions on how to apply for TPS.

U.S. Suspends Deportations to Select European Countries

In addition to designating Ukraine for TPS and suspending deportations to the embattled country, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has also paused deportations to eight other European Nations: Russia, Belarus, Georgia, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.
ICE has not committed to how long it will pause deportations. That said, deportations to the aforementioned countries are relatively small. For example, in 2020, ICE deported just 106 Ukrainians and 108 Russians

GoffWilson Immigration Law  

GoffWilson is an ally to Ukrainians and encourages employers and individuals to contact us with any questions they may have about the designation of Ukraine for TPS and what it means for their employees or themselves. GoffWilson solely practices immigration law and has helped businesses and individuals navigate ever-changing U.S. immigration law for over 30 years. At GoffWilson, immigration isn’t just what we do—it’s our passion.
Filed under:Immigration Law