This document was prepared by licensed attorneys for informational purposes only and should not be used as legal advice. Please consult a knowledgeable immigration attorney to obtain legal advice about your own situation.

Last updated August 9, 2022.

 

 

Refugee Admission and Asylum Protection

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The U.S. defines “refugees” as persons who flee their home country and are unable to return because they have experienced past persecution or have a well-founded fear of future persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. They must prove that the harm is from the government of their home country, or, from some person or group that the government of their home country cannot protect them from. The persecution must also be significant, such as unlawful or political detention, torture, violation of human rights, physical violence, or some type of severe non-physical harm.

Unfortunately, fleeing war is not a sufficient qualification for refugee status in the United States. It will be very difficult for individuals who cannot demonstrate past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution in Ukraine because of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion to qualify as a refugee under U.S. immigration law.

But if you believe you have a legal basis to file for asylum, it will be best to speak with an immigration attorney about your specific situation. Currently, the process of applying for asylum can take a couple of years more.

Maybe. Ukrainian nationals fleeing their home country because of war, persecution, or natural disaster may qualify for protection under a category determined by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). For Ukrainians who are seeking refugee status, UNHCR conducts an initial screening in their current country of residence to determine if they qualify as a refugee under international law.

Individuals cannot apply directly to the United States for refugee entry. Individuals who are designated by UNHCR as refugees in need of resettlement in the U.S. are referred to the U.S. Department of State to determine whether they can seek entry through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. For some categories of refugee entry, you must receive a referral directly from the U.S. Embassy located in the country where you currently reside.

If you receive a referral, you will receive help filling out your application and then be interviewed abroad by a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer who will determine whether you are eligible for refugee resettlement. Each applicant will be screened to determine if they meet one of three U.S. priority designations for refugee entry:

Priority One: Individuals with compelling protection needs or those for whom no other durable solution exists. Note: This priority class is rarely granted.

Priority Two: Groups specifically selected by the Department of State for group referral. These include persons from certain designated countries which have been identified as having “special concern” to the United States, as well as persons belonging to certain religious groups which have traditionally been persecuted in their home countries. Currently, Ukraine is not designated as a Priority Two country.  

Priority Three: The relatives (parents, spouses, or unmarried children under 21) of refugees who are already resettled in the United States.

Ukrainians who have already entered into another country under a permanent resettlement program, or have been offered permanent resettlement or permanent resident status in that country, are not eligible to seek entry as refugees into the U.S.

Refugee status is a form of protection that may be granted to people who meet the U.S. legal definition of “refugee” who are not yet inside the U.S. or at a U.S. port of entry. Refugees may either be located in their home country or in a different country (but not permanently seeking resettlement in their current country).

Asylum status is a form of protection available to people who meet the U.S. legal definition of “refugee” and who are either already in the U.S. or are seeking admission at a U.S. border.

A person may apply for asylum in the United States regardless of their country of origin or their current immigration status. In order to apply for asylum protection, applicants must show they cannot return to their home country because they fear persecution there. They must prove that the harm is from the government of their home country, or, from some person or group that the government of their home country cannot protect them from. To be eligible for asylum, the persecution must also be significant, such as unlawful or political detention, torture, violation of human rights, physical violence, or some type of severe non-physical harm.

Each asylum application is considered individually based on the applicant’s unique facts and circumstances. Some people are granted asylum protection while others are not. Also, asylum protection will be denied to anyone who has been involved in terrorist activities or is considered a threat to U.S. security.

No, asylum is not granted immediately. Applicants must apply for asylum protection.

Yes, but you must file an Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal on Form I-589 within one year of your arrival to the United States.

Individuals who hold Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or who have been granted humanitarian parole may file for asylum after the one-year deadline following their arrival to the United States, as long as they file within a reasonable period after the deadline.

A small number of individuals may be excepted from the one-year deadline under a recent lawsuit (the Mendez-Rojas class action agreement). Individuals who previously crossed the border seeking asylum but who were stopped and not informed of their right to apply for asylum within one year of entry may qualify for an exception to the one-year limitation if they file notice with the immigration court or with USCIS before April 22, 2022. This exception is unlikely to apply to most recent Ukrainian migrants.

Anyone else who files an asylum application after they have been in the United States for more than one year must show that there were exceptional circumstances that prevented them from applying sooner, or that circumstances have changed and have given rise to an asylum claim that previously did not exist.

An application for asylum does not entitle a person to work in the U.S. But if asylum has already been granted, then the person is automatically authorized to work. A person who has applied for asylum but has not yet received a decision may file an Application for Employment Authorization on Form I-765 150* days after applying for asylum.

[*Note for Legal Practitioners: Prior to new official rules in 8 C.F.R. §§ 208 and 274a that were published in 2020, an applicant for asylum who had not yet received a decision (but who had not been denied asylum) was allowed to apply for an Employment Authorization Document 150 days after their asylum application. The new 2020 rules (among other things) extended that wait time to 365 days. The new rules were challenged in MD federal court by Casa de Maryland, Inc. v. Wolf, and an injunction was issued for members of CASA de Maryland (CASA) and the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) pending the final outcome of the case.

A separate case, AsylumWorks v. Mayorkas, was decided February 7, 2022 in DC federal court, which challenged the same rule. The plaintiff won, and the decision invalidated the 2020 rule change, calling it illegal and determining it must be changed for all asylum seekers.

After Asylumworks v. Mayorkas vacated both the June 22, 2020, final rule, Removal of 30-day Processing Provision for Asylum Applicant-Related Form I-765 Employment Authorization Applications Rule, and, the June 26, 2020, final rule, Asylum Application, Interview, and Employment Authorization for Applicants Rule; USCIS ceased applying these rules to asylum applicants whose applications were either in process during that period or who filed afterward.

However, USCIS has not yet changed its language on forms or on its website. So, while the rule itself reverts to the pre-2020 waiting period of 150 days, it is likely to confuse readers who have not been made aware of the Feb. 7 decision.]

You may include your spouse and children who are in the U.S. on your asylum application at the time you file, or at any time until a final decision is made on your asylum case. To include your child on your application, the child must be under 21 and unmarried.

If you are granted asylum you may petition to bring your spouse and children to the United States by filing a Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition on Form I-730. To include your child on your application, the child must be under 21 and unmarried. You must file the petition within two years of being granted asylum unless there are humanitarian reasons to excuse this deadline.

You may apply for permanent residence, also known as a Green Card, one year after being granted asylum. To apply for a Green Card, file an Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status on Form I-485. You must submit a separate application packet for each family member who received asylum based on your case.

 

 

Humanitarian Parole and the “Uniting for Ukraine” Program

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Humanitarian parole is an entry granted to certain non-citizens due to a compelling emergency or urgent humanitarian reasons who would otherwise be ineligible for admission to the U.S. A person can also apply for one-time entry for a specific purpose, such as obtaining medical treatment, visiting an ill family member, attending a family member’s funeral, or testifying in a U.S. court case.

Humanitarian parole allows a person to temporarily live in the U.S. without fear of deportation. However, it is important to understand that humanitarian parole does not give a person an immigration status. Since humanitarian parole is not a legal status, a person who is in the U.S. on humanitarian parole will either need to reapply for another term of parole before their current term expires, select a different legal status for which to apply, or leave the U.S.

Humanitarian parole is an entry granted to certain non-citizens due to a compelling emergency or urgent humanitarian reasons who would otherwise be ineligible for admission to the U.S. This can include groups of individuals seeking shelter or aid from disasters, oppression, emergency medical issues, or other urgent circumstances. A person can also apply for one-time entry for a specific purpose, such as obtaining medical treatment, visiting an ill family member, attending a family member’s funeral, or testifying in a U.S. court case.

Asylum protection is a legal status granted to certain individuals who demonstrate they have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted in their home country, either by the government of their home country or by some person or group that the government of their home country cannot protect them from.

Individuals and organizations who are interested in sponsoring Ukrainian beneficiaries but do not have specific persons in mind may sign up on the website https://ukraine.welcome.us/#intro-to-sponsorship. Currently, this method only allows potential sponsors to express interest by submitting their contact information. At a later time, the website expects to match interested sponsors with potential Ukrainian beneficiaries.

Yes, a Non-governmental Organization (NGO) may sign up to be a sponsor for one or more Ukrainian beneficiaries. If an organization or other entity is providing financial or other services to the named individual for the purpose of facilitating support, this information should be provided as part of the evidence submitted with Form I-134 Affidavit of Support, and this information will be taken into account in determining the supporter’s ability to support the named beneficiary.

However, Form I-134 Affidavit of Support requires an individual to sign the form; organizations may not serve as the named supporter on a Form I-134.

Yes, multiple supporters may join together to have the financial ability to support one or more Ukrainian beneficiaries. In this case, a primary supporter should file a Form I-134 Affidavit of Support and include in the filing supplementary evidence demonstrating the identity of, and resources to be provided by, the additional supporters and attach a statement explaining the intention for shared responsibility. These supporters’ ability to support Ukrainian beneficiaries will be assessed collectively.

An individual who holds lawful status in the United States or is a parolee or recipient of deferred action or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) is eligible to apply to sponsor a Ukrainian beneficiary.

Examples of individuals who may be eligible sponsors include:

  • U.S. citizens and nationals;
  • Lawful permanent residents, lawful temporary residents, and conditional permanent residents;
  • Nonimmigrants in lawful status (that is, who maintain the nonimmigrant status and have not violated any of the terms or conditions of the nonimmigrant status);
  • Asylees, refugees, and parolees;
  • TPS holders; and
  • Beneficiaries of deferred action (including DACA) or Deferred Enforced Departure.

The application process is fully electronic for both the sponsor and the Ukrainian beneficiary (the applicant who is seeking entry). First, a U.S. sponsor (an individual or organization) must file a Form I-134, Declaration of Financial Support with USCIS through the online portal. Sponsors will need to include specific information on the Ukrainian person(s) they intend to support.

Once a supporter has been confirmed by USCIS, the Ukrainian applicant will receive notification from USCIS about the next steps in the process. The Ukrainian applicant will then fill out the required applications electronically in order to request authorization to travel to the United States and seek parole. The process does not require an interview with the U.S. consulate.

No. As of April 25, 2022, Ukrainians will not be granted humanitarian parole at the U.S. border. The Department of Homeland Security has instructed that, beginning April 25, 2022, Ukrainian nationals who come to the U.S. border without a valid visa or without pre-authorization to travel to the U.S. through the “Uniting for Ukraine” program may be denied entry and referred to apply through this program.

Yes. Once a U.S. sponsor initiates a petition, the Ukrainian named in the petition needs to apply for humanitarian parole through the Uniting for Ukraine program outside of the United States.

No. Ukrainians who are already inside the U.S. are not eligible to be beneficiaries under the Uniting for Ukraine program.

“Uniting for Ukraine” is a special program created for Ukrainians who are fleeing war to enter the United States for up to 2 years on humanitarian parole without applying for a traditional immigrant or visitor visa. Applicants must have a sponsor in the U.S. initiate the process in order to qualify. Applicants who are approved to travel to the U.S. through this program will be granted humanitarian parole.

Yes, Ukrainians must apply for humanitarian parole through the Uniting for Ukraine program. To be eligible, Ukrainians must have been residing in Ukraine through February 11, 2022. Applicants under this program must be sponsored by either a person or an organization in the United States who agrees to provide financial support for the duration of their stay in the United States.

Applicants must complete vaccinations and other public health requirements. Applicants must also pass biometric and biographic screening, as well as security vetting.

You do not need to have relatives or acquaintances, but you must have a sponsor in the United States.

Individuals or organizations who agree to sponsor an individual from Ukraine for humanitarian parole must submit evidence that they will be able to provide financial support during the individual’s stay in the U.S.

A person seeking humanitarian parole may have more than one sponsor to show financial support. An organization may alternatively serve as a sponsor.

Humanitarian parole is not intended to be used as a substitute for normal visa processing procedures and timelines or to bypass inadmissibility through other entry processing channels. Since humanitarian parole is not a legal status, a person who is in the U.S. on humanitarian parole will either need to reapply for another term of parole before their current term expires, select a different legal status for which to apply, or leave the U.S..

However, a person who is in the U.S. on humanitarian parole may apply for a change in legal status by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

Ukrainians who have been granted humanitarian parole may be eligible to apply for a U.S. social security number. There are two potential methods. You can either apply directly to the Social Security Administration, or you may apply for one when you file Form I-765 Application for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

A humanitarian parolee with only a Form I-94 or a parole stamp in their passport may only apply for a non-work Social Security number (SSN). If you are applying for benefits, your local welfare or social service agency should provide you with a referral letter to the Social Security Administration explaining that the agency needs your SSN in order to process your application for benefits. With this letter, the Social Security Administration will accept your application for an SSN.

To apply for a non-work SSN directly through the Social Security Administration, fill out the application for a Social Security Card and print the application. Bring it to your nearest Social Security Administration office, along with your passport, I-94, birth certificate, marriage certificate, and the referral letter from the welfare or social services agency. You may need to make an appointment in advance at the Social Security Administration. Prepare translations of any required documents in advance.

The link for the social security card application can be found at https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ss-5.pdf

You can look up the closest Social Security Administration office at https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp#officeResults

You may also apply for a social security number when you apply for your work permit, which can be provided to employers. When filling out your Form I-765 – Application for Employment Authorization Document (EAD), check boxes 14 and 15 to receive a Social Security Card. You may do this even if you previously received a non-work SSN. The information you provide on this form will then be sent to the Social Security Administration to issue you a social security card.

Some states or municipalities offer non-permanent residents certain benefits, depending on a person’s legal status. It is necessary to check with each state or municipality to find out whether it offers benefits.

Each state also has different laws about driver’s licenses. Some states allow licensed drivers from other countries to drive legally for a year. Other states allow non-permanent residents to apply for a visitor driver’s license by taking a test and obtaining insurance. Please note that a temporary or visitor driver’s license may not necessarily qualify as a state-issued form of identification.

Ukrainian individuals (and certain non-Ukrainian individuals who last habitually resided in Ukraine) who have been or will be granted humanitarian parole by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security may be eligible for some federal benefits. These benefits may include cash assistance through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Supplemental Security Income, health insurance through Medicaid, and food assistance through Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

If you are not eligible to receive these benefits, you may still be eligible for state government benefits or other benefits from a resettlement agency in your state. These benefits may include cash assistance, medical screening, employment assistance, and other services.

For more information, please visit https://www.acf.hhs.gov/orr/fact-sheet/benefits-ukrainian-humanitarian-parolees.

Humanitarian parole allows a person to temporarily live in the U.S. without fear of deportation. A person with humanitarian parole may also apply for employment authorization to work legally.

Applications for Employment Authorization may take 8-12 months or longer. It is important to understand that Employment Authorization is not necessarily granted to all applicants. Each application is reviewed individually based on the reason for application, length of time the applicant has been approved to stay in the U.S., and other factors. USCIS currently has extremely long backlogs of pending cases that has led to delays in adjudication of nearly all applications, including those for work authorization.

No, humanitarian parole does not automatically authorize a person to work in the U.S. After being granted entry into the U.S. under this program, a person who wishes to work in the U.S. must file an Application for Employment Authorization on Form I-765 with USCIS.

Humanitarian parole under the Uniting for Ukraine program is granted for up to 2 years.

Children may only travel to the U.S. under this program if they are accompanied by at least one parent or legal guardian. A child under 18 years old will not be allowed to enter the U.S. through this program on their own or with an adult who does not have court-ordered custody/legal guardianship documents for the child.

Immediate family members of a designated beneficiary may be sponsored through United for Ukraine as well. These include the spouse or common-law partner of a Ukrainian citizen, and their unmarried children under the age of 21. Please note that a child who is under 18 years old must travel to the U.S. with a parent or legal guardian in order to use this process.

Potential beneficiaries from Ukraine will need to submit biographic and biometric information to the U.S. government for the security vetting process. Individuals will be vetted through interagency intelligence, law enforcement, and counterterrorism background checks. Anyone who does not pass security checks conducted overseas will not be authorized to travel to the United States.

Upon their arrival at a port of entry, each person will be inspected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to undergo additional screening and vetting, including biometric screening. Anyone who is found to pose a national security or public safety threat will be referred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Applicants will also need to confirm prior vaccination against measles, polio, and COVID-19. If they are not previously vaccinated, individuals will need to receive a first dose of required vaccines prior to obtaining authorization to travel to the U.S. In addition, children who are at least 2 years old will need to complete a medical screening for tuberculosis, including an Interferon-Gamma Release Assays (IGRA) test, within two weeks of arrival to the U.S. Other travel requirements are outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including pre-departure testing for COVID-19.

A U.S. sponsor must initiate the “Uniting for Ukraine” application process by filing Form I-134 (Declaration of Financial Support) with USCIS and providing information about themselves and the Ukrainian they wish to sponsor. Sponsors will be vetted by the U.S. government to ensure that they are able to support the Ukrainian and help protect them from potential exploitation.

Along with the application, the sponsor needs to submit an affidavit of support, financial documents confirming income, and a statement of assets. Sponsors must pass a security and background check. Each sponsor must demonstrate sufficient financial resources to “receive, maintain, and support” the Ukrainians they commit to support.

Examples of the types of support for beneficiaries that supporters should keep in mind when considering their ability to meet this commitment include:

  • Receiving the beneficiary upon arrival in the United States and transporting them to initial housing;
  • Ensuring that the beneficiary has safe and appropriate housing for the duration of the parole and initial basic necessities;
  • As appropriate, assisting the beneficiary in completing necessary paperwork such as that related to employment authorization, social security card, and for services for which they may be eligible;
  • Ensuring that the beneficiary’s health care and medical needs are met for the duration of the parole; and
  • As appropriate, assisting the beneficiary with accessing education, learning English, securing employment and enrolling children in school.

 

 

Seeking Entry at the U.S. Border

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As of April 25, 2022, Ukrainians will not be granted humanitarian parole at the U.S. border. The Department of Homeland Security has instructed that, beginning April 25, 2022, Ukrainian nationals who come to the U.S. border without a valid visa or without pre-authorization to travel to the U.S. through the “Uniting for Ukraine” program may be denied entry and referred to apply through this program.

For more information on this program, please see the section above on “Uniting for Ukraine.”

A child who is a minor (a person who is under the age of 18 years) must be accompanied by a parent or adult who has proof of Legal Guardianship over the child. Ideally, this should include the parent’s name on the child’s birth certificate.

The proof of Legal Guardianship must be in the form of a judicial custody order and should be translated into English. If the court order is in Ukrainian or any other language, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) could refuse to accept it unless an interpreter is available to verify its content. Please note that a Power of Attorney is not an acceptable form of Legal Guardianship.

A minor child who is accompanied by a parent without proof of Legal Guardianship is likely to be separated from the parent and detained.

Any child traveling with someone over the age of 18 who is not a parent or legal guardian (or who cannot show a judicial custody order) will be separated at the border. This includes children traveling with grandparents, aunts/uncles, adult siblings, step-parents, cousins, distant relatives, or any other adults.

A minor child (a child who is under the age of 18 years) who tries to cross the border without an adult will definitely be detained. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) will not release an unaccompanied minor into the U.S. out of concern for human trafficking and other safety hazards.

First, they can be held in a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) facility for up to 72 hours. Then, they will likely be transferred to a detention center run by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), where they could potentially be held for weeks and even months. After an unaccompanied minor is taken into ORR custody, the child may be moved throughout the U.S. to a facility that has bed space. Children over the age of 12 are usually sent to group homes. Children under 12 are usually in group homes during the day and foster families at night.

If an unaccompanied minor is transferred to an ORR detention center, ORR will try to find someone in the U.S. to take custody of the child. The more distant the relation (relative vs. friend vs. stranger), the more time it will take to screen the adult before releasing the child into their custody.

It is extremely difficult to get information from ORR about a child’s location. Only a parent is entitled to this information. ORR will not give out information to a non-parent beyond confirming it has custody of a child. Instead, the caller’s contact information will be sent to the facility where the child is located.

Non-parents or attorneys only learn where the child is physically located when social workers from ORR contact the potential sponsor to begin the screening process for taking custody of the child.

Since Ukrainians are no longer able to apply for entry by humanitarian parole at the U.S. border, it is unknown whether or not there are volunteers available to help at the border.

 

 

Temporary Protected Status

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Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is granted when the person’s home country is experiencing difficulties or conflicts that make returning unsafe or unfeasible. People who are granted TPS are protected from being removed from the U.S.

TPS is available for those Ukrainian nationals who were already in the U.S. on or before April 11, 2022 and have been physically present in the U.S. continuously since April 19, 2022. Ukrainians who arrived in the U.S. after April 11 are not eligible to apply for TPS.

TPS is available regardless of one’s current immigration status in the U.S., except those who are already U.S. Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents (green card holders). However, eligibility may be affected if an individual has been convicted of a felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States.

Those who previously applied for asylum and have a case pending should speak with an attorney before applying for TPS, since there could be some negative interactions between asylum and TPS.

The Department of Homeland Security designated Ukraine for TPS for 18 months. The TPS designation for Ukraine will remain in effect through October 19, 2023.

If you have no legal status after the TPS term expires after October 19, 2023, you will have to leave the U.S. or face being deported. The Department of Homeland Security will determine whether to redesignate or extend the current designation.

If TPS is extended for Ukraine, you will need to reapply for TPS before the expiration of the current term. As of now, the government has not announced any intention to extend TPS for Ukraine beyond the current 18-month term.

A person who is granted TPS is protected from being removed from the U.S. and is eligible to apply for authorization to travel abroad and return to the U.S. If granted, TPS status lasts only until the end of their country’s designated period, regardless of the individual’s approval date.

No, a person must apply to receive TPS. To apply for TPS, fill out Form I-821, an Application for Temporary Protected Status. Please note that it could take 6+ months to receive the status individually.

Those who are eligible may apply for TPS during the registration period, which begins April 19, 2022 and ends October 19, 2023.

Applicants may either file online or by mail. To file online, you or your attorney will need to file through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website, where you will need an account. You may also send an application by mail to the appropriate address listed on this page for the filing state in which you reside: https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/temporary-protected-status/temporary-protected-status-designated-country-ukraine 

 Ukrainians can also sign up to receive help with TPS registration through a non-profit organization that is offering assistance with filing for TPS: http://L4GG.org/TPS-Ukraine 

Receiving TPS will not automatically give you employment authorization. You must separately file Form I-765, an Application for Employment Authorization. Those who are eligible for employment authorization may apply before they file for TPS, or at the same time. This may help their Employment Authorization Document to be approved more quickly.

A person does not become eligible for any government benefits or public assistance just because they have been granted TPS status. However, some people may be eligible to receive certain benefits if they already hold a certain legal status, or if they are approved for a certain legal status while they hold TPS.

Ukrainian individuals (and certain non-Ukrainian individuals who last habitually resided in Ukraine) who have been or will be granted humanitarian parole by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security may be eligible for some federal benefits. These benefits may include cash assistance through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Supplemental Security Income, health insurance through Medicaid, and food assistance through Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). If you are not eligible to receive these mainstream benefits, you may still be eligible for state government benefits or other benefits from a resettlement agency in your state.

For more information on federal benefits for Ukrainians who are granted humanitarian parole, please visit the previous section on Humanitarian Parole or this site: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/orr/fact-sheet/benefits-ukrainian-humanitarian-parolees 

Some states or municipalities offer non-permanent residents certain benefits, depending on a person’s legal status. It is necessary to check with each state or municipality to find out whether it offers benefits.

Each state also has different laws about driver’s licenses. Some states allow licensed drivers from other countries to drive legally for a year. Other states allow non-permanent residents to apply for a visitor driver’s license by taking a test and obtaining insurance. Please note that a temporary or visitor driver’s license may not necessarily qualify as a state-issued form of identification.

TPS does not automatically provide a person with a path to citizenship or lawful permanent residence (a green card). However, a person with TPS status who is otherwise eligible for permanent residence may apply for that status. Likewise, a person who becomes eligible to apply for permanent residence while they hold TPS (for example, if they marry a U.S. citizen or permanent resident) may apply for a green card.

 

 

Non-Immigrant Visas

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A non-immigrant visa is intended for temporary travel and is not intended to provide permanent resettlement or permanent resident status in the U.S. In contrast, an immigrant visa is intended for those who plan to permanently resettle in the U.S.

This depends on your circumstances. The most common visas for temporary travel to the U.S. are a B-1 visa for business (to attend a conference or consult with business associates) or a B-2 visa for tourism (for a vacation or to visit with friends or relatives). Neither of these non-immigrant visas allow an individual to work in the U.S. or stay in the U.S. permanently.

Generally speaking, no, you do not need to have family in the U.S. to apply for a non-immigrant visa. This may vary based on the type of non-immigrant visa for which you are applying, as some types of family-based non-immigrant visas do require the applicant to have a family member in the U.S. Other types of non-immigrant visa applications may benefit from family sponsorship, even if family relationships in the U.S. are not required.

A U.S. citizen or a U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident (green card holder) may sponsor a spouse or a child under age 21for a non-immigrant V visa, if a petition for permanent immigrant visa under Form I-130 had already been filed before December 21, 2000 and the petition is more than three years old. We note that U.S. Embassies and Consulates have not issued any V visas for the past several years because applicants with priority dates on or before December 21, 2000, were able to apply for immigrant visas as their priority dates become current.

A relative of a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (green card holder) may apply for a non-immigrant visa at the U.S. consulate located in the country where they currently reside. The Ukrainian visa applicant can list their U.S. family member who is a citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident in their non-immigrant visa application. Providing documents to clarify both that the visit is temporary (i.e., to attend a wedding or graduation ceremony) and that the immigrant will be supported financially during the temporary visit will help strengthen the non-immigrant visa application.

Each application is considered on its own merits and varies in processing time. Note that, due to the tremendous backlog pre-existing before the war, applicants may wait months or even years for approval.

Typically, a non-immigrant visa such as a B-1/B-2 visitor (for business or tourism) visa allows a person to stay in the U.S. for from 90 days to 6 months.

An applicant needs to demonstrate strong continuing ties to their home country when applying for a non-immigrant visa such as a B-1/B-2 visitor visa. The U.S. State Department indicated that this is necessary even for those Ukrainians who are fleeing from the war. Under current laws, if an applicant is unable to demonstrate their intent to return to a residence abroad after a defined visit to the U.S., the application must be rejected. As difficult as this may be for some applicants to demonstrate at this time, this requirement to show evidence of intent to return to the home country remains in place.

Evidence showing intent to return could include a letter from an employer, a recent paycheck from a job, an apartment rented or house owned in their home country, enrollment in a school, or the presence of close family in the home country. Other evidence that shows the temporary purpose of the trip, such as attending a wedding, funeral, or other event may also be helpful.

Non-immigrant visa refusals are final and may not be appealed. Applicants who are refused would be required to file a new non-immigrant visa application. However, the U.S. State Department advises against filing a new application if an applicant was refused previously but their circumstances have not significantly changed since that time.

An individual on a tourist or visitor visa (B1/B2) is not permitted to accept employment or work in the U.S. Violating the terms of one’s tourist or visitor visa (B-1 or B-2), including staying in the U.S. beyond the time permitted, can result in severe immigration consequences, including being accused by U.S. immigration authorities of misusing your tourist/visitor visa. This may lead to a denial of any future immigration applications.

If you entered the U.S. as a tourist, you may try to apply for a change of status if a U.S. employer is willing to sponsor you for an employment-based visa.

The U.S. government does not offer any benefits or financial assistance to individuals who are here on a B1/B2 tourist/visitor visa. This visa is not designed for those seeking permanent residence or who are entering the U.S. for humanitarian reasons. It is possible that some municipalities have resources available for individuals who are here on a B1/B2 visitor visa who meet certain criteria such as poverty or having minor-aged children.

Certain private or non-profit organizations may offer individuals assistance with food, shelter, or necessities. A non-exhaustive list of resources can be found below in the “Additional Questions” section and at this site: https://www.refugees.novaukraine.org/

The U.S. has authorized Ukrainians who arrived in the U.S. on or before April 11, 2022 and have been present in the U.S. continuously since that date to apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). You will be able to apply for TPS once the directive with instructions is published. Ukrainians who arrived in the U.S. after April 11 are not eligible to apply for TPS.

For now, Ukrainians may sign up to be notified of registration availability. Please see the above section for more details on TPS.

Ukrainians who are legally residing in the U.S. can also request a status extension by filing Form I-539 form and explaining why they cannot return to Ukraine. Please note that when filing the I-539, you will be asked whether you have worked in the United States without authorization, if you have violated the terms of your non-immigrant status, and whether you will be financially supported without working.

Generally, no. A non-immigrant visa is not designed to be a pathway to Permanent Residence or U.S. Citizenship.

 

 

Immigrant Visas and Permanent Residence in the U.S.

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Generally, there are three types of immigrant visa categories that can lead to permanent residence and resettlement in the U.S.:

  1. Family Sponsored
  2. Employer Sponsored (not discussed in detail here), and
  3. Humanitarian (discussed above in the asylum and refugee sections of this document).

Each application is considered individually and varies in processing time. Note that, due to the tremendous backlog pre-existing before the war, applicants may wait months or even years for approval.

There are two groups of family based immigrant visa categories: Immediate Relatives and Family Preference.

Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas are based on a close family relationship with a United States citizen (not a Lawful Permanent Resident). The number of immigrants in these categories is not limited each fiscal year. An “Immediate Relative” for immigration purposes is one of the following:

  • Spouses of U.S. citizens (including same sex spouses)

  • Unmarried children (under 21 years of age) of U.S. citizens

  • Orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. Citizen

  • Orphan to be adopted in the U.S. by a U.S. citizen

  • Parent of a U.S. citizen (U.S. citizen child must be at least 21 years of age)

Although a fiance(e) does not fall into any of the above categories, a U.S. citizen can file for a fiancé(e) through a different visa process. A Lawful Permanent Residents cannot file for a fiancé(e).

Family Preference Immigrant Visas are available for certain, more distant, family relationships with a U.S. citizen, as well as some specified relationships with a Lawful Permanent Resident.  The quantity of such visas is limited for each fiscal year. “Family Preference” relatives for immigration purposes include the following:

  • Unmarried son or daughter (age 21 and over) of a U.S. citizen, and their minor children

  • Married son or daughter (age 21 and over) of a U.S. citizen, including their spouses and minor children

  • Brother or sister of a U.S. citizen, including their spouses and minor children, provided the U.S. citizen is at least 21 years of age

  • Spouses of U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents

  • Children of U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents (under 21 years)

  • Unmarried children (over 21 years) of U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents

Note that grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins cannot sponsor a relative for an immigrant visa.

No, it is not necessary. There are other pathways for permanent residence, including employer sponsored and humanitarian (discussed above). We note that employer sponsored immigration is fairly specific and can be a lengthy process.

 

 

Additional Questions about Immigration to the U.S.

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It is always advisable to get advice from a licensed attorney in the U.S. who regularly practices immigration law before starting any visa or immigration application.

The U.S. government does not offer any benefits or financial assistance to individuals who are here on a B1/B2 tourist/visitor visa. This visa is not designed for those seeking permanent residence or who are entering the U.S. for humanitarian reasons. It is possible that some municipalities have resources available for U.S. residents who meet certain criteria such as poverty or having minor-aged children.

Certain private or non-profit organizations may offer individuals assistance with food, shelter, or necessities during their visit to the U.S. Here is a partial list of organizations and community groups helping displaced Ukrainians in the U.S.:

Chicago: https://t.me/chicagohelpukrainians 

Florida: https://t.me/florida_dopomoga 

New York City: https://t.me/ukraniansinnewyork 

Seattle: https://t.me/ukrainianseattle 

New Jersey: https://t.me/USAwithUA 

Connecticut: https://t.me/cthelpukrainians 

Minnesota: https://t.me/helpukrainianinmn 

Miami: https://t.me/helpforukrainianinmiami 

Catholic Charities: https://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/ 

HIAS Resettlement Partners: https://www.hias.org/what/resettlement-partners 

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services: https://www.lirs.org/assistance-for-refugees-and-siv-applicants/ 

Nova Ukraine Resources: https://www.refugees.novaukraine.org/ 

Temporary Lodging – I Can Help Host: https://icanhelp.host/ 

Temporary Lodging – Ukraine Take Shelter: https://www.ukrainetakeshelter.com 

Temporary Lodging – Airbnb: https://novaukraine.org/airbnb/ 

A Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) for individuals fleeing Ukraine has been established. More details can be found on this official government page: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/ukraine-measures/cuaet.html 

For comprehensive information about immigration  for those affected by the situation in Ukraine, please see these other official government resources:  

https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/ukraine-measures.html 

 https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/2022/02/additional-immigration-support-for-those-affected-by-the-situation-in-ukraine.html 

Please see this website for resources about immigration into Europe: https://ukrainetaskforce.org/public-resources-europe/.