Many Ukrainians who entered the United States through the Uniting for Ukraine program are wondering how they might be able to remain in the United States after their humanitarian parole expires.
Below is an overview of potential options that could allow certain Ukrainians on humanitarian parole to remain in the United States after their Uniting for Ukraine stay ends.
Photo by Sipa US, available at Alamy.com. This image is being used for editorial purposes only.
Short-Term Humanitarian Protections for Humanitarian Parolees
In the short term, there are 2 temporary humanitarian options that might become available between the end of 2023 and 2024.
1.Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a temporary immigration protection that is provided to nationals of certain countries who cannot return to their home countries due to an ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster, or other dangerous conditions defined by the U.S. State Department. We are optimistic that Ukraine will be redesignated for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) this October. If this occurs, the new registration period will open around October 19, 2023 (after the current TPS term expires on October 19). Ukrainians who entered the U.S. and have been physically present here as of the date of the newly designated date may apply for TPS, subject to a few eligibility requirements.
TPS is typically designated to a country for an 18-month term. However, each individual from Ukraine must apply separately, and application processing could take 6-8 months. Individuals who are granted TPS are protected from being removed from the United States through the end of the 18-month period (as defined by the official start and end date published in the Federal Register, not the date of the individual TPS grant). They are permitted to work if they receive employment authorization through TPS, and they may apply for travel authorization through TPS to leave the United States.
To learn more about TPS, read our article here: https://ukrainetaskforce.org/temporary-protected-status-tps-for-ukrainians-background-and-requirements/
We are hopeful that USCIS will launch a streamlined application process for re-parole for Ukrainians, as they indicated they plan to launch for Afghans. Since this procedure has not yet been announced for Ukrainians, we don’t yet know how and when it would be implemented, or what the specific requirements will be. If such a process is made available, current humanitarian parolees who entered through Uniting for Ukraine would theoretically be able to apply for re-parole online directly to USCIS, without needing a U.S. sponsor. Applications would be considered for each individual on a case-by-case basis. We don’t have any insight on how long processing would take or for how long their parole would be extended. We hope to know more in the coming year and will updated our website with new information.
Long-Term Immigration Pathways for Humanitarian Parolees
With respect to longer-term options, there are 4 potential pathways to permanent residence for Ukrainians who are on humanitarian parole. Not everyone will qualify for each pathway, and there are specific criteria for eligibility through these channels.
1. Family Sponsored Immigration
This requires a close relative who is a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (green card holder) to sponsor the Ukrainian national. There are two types of family based pathways: Immediate Relative (U.S. Citizen) and Family Preference (U.S. Citizen/LPR) .
Immediate Relative. Immediate Relative immigrant visas have no limit to the number of visas that can be issued annually. Processing time is faster than for Family Preference, but the eligible categories are narrow. Ukrainians may qualify if they have a:
– U.S. citizen spouse
– U.S. citizen parent (only if the Ukrainian is under 21 years old and unmarried)
– U.S. citizen child who is 21 years or older
Family Preference. Family Preference immigrant visas are issued in limited numbers each year. Processing takes much longer than for U.S. Citizen immediate relatives — it could take years. Family Preference categories are:
– First preference (F1) – Ukrainian unmarried sons and daughters (21 years of age and older) of U.S. citizens;
– Second preference (F2A) – Ukrainian spouses and children (unmarried and under 21 years of age) of U.S. lawful permanent residents;
– Second preference (F2B) – Ukrainian unmarried sons and daughters (21 years of age and older) of U.S. lawful permanent residents;
– Third preference (F3) – Ukrainian married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens;
– Fourth preference (F4) – Ukrainian brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens (if the U.S. citizen is 21 years of age and older).
To learn more about Adjustment of Status through Family-Based Immigrant Visas, read our article here: https://ukrainetaskforce.org/family-based-adjustment-of-status-to-permanent-residence/
2. Employer Sponsored Immigration
This requires a company, organization, or educational institution to sponsor the Ukrainian national (with a couple of exceptions). Note that humanitarian parolees are not be eligible to apply directly for most employment-based immigrant visas while they are on humanitarian parole in the United States. This is because humanitarian parole is not a sufficient immigration status for purposes of employment-based immigrant visas.
Thus, humanitarian parolees who leave the United States may be eligible to apply for employment-based visas to a U.S. consulate abroad. Alternatively, humanitarian parolees who leave the U.S. then are later re-admitted on a different immigration status (ex. TPS, visitor visa, student visa, temporary worker) could potentially become eligible to apply for an adjustment of status to an employment-based immigrant visa. This is a highly complex and emerging area of the law, so it will be best to consult an experienced immigration attorney who is up-to-date on Ukrainian immigration matters.
3. Diversity Visas
To obtain a Diversity Visa, an applicant must win one of a handful of immigrant visas issued each year by the Department of State through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program lottery. The application for Adjustment of Status must be made by an applicant who is legally residing in the U.S. after winning the diversity lottery. To learn more about Diversity Visas (one of the few non-family-based immigrant visas potentially available to Ukrainian parolees), visit the State Department website: U.S.. Department of State Diversity Visa Program
Note that Adjustment of Status is not the same thing as Change of Status. Adjustment of Status is for immigrant visas that lead to permanent residence. Change of Status is for non-immigrant visas (ex. student, tourist, temporary worker) that allow individuals to stay for a temporary period. Unfortunately, humanitarian parolees cannot apply for a Change of Status to a non-immigrant visa without leaving the U.S. and going through the consular application process abroad.
This protection requires the applicant to meet precise legal criteria and win the case in immigration court in order to be granted asylum before applying for permanent residence. Individuals must apply for asylum within 1 year of their most recent entry into the United States.
Ukrainian parolees may be eligible to apply for asylum if they can demonstrate to an immigration court that they cannot return to their home country because they have been persecuted there in the past or have a well-founded fear of being persecuted in the future because of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Applicants for asylum must prove that the persecution/harm is from their country’s government, or from a person or group that the government 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.
However, fleeing war or violence is not, by itself, a sufficient qualification for asylum unless the applicant meets the other eligibility requirements. Each asylum application is considered individually based on the applicant’s unique facts and circumstances. If an asylum application is approved, then the person with asylum can apply for a green card. If asylum is not approved, then the applicant will need to obtain a different lawful status in order to remain in the United States.
It is important to know that asylum applications can take 4-7 years to adjudicate due to the record-number of asylum applications already in the pipeline. There is also a major risk of being rejected — not only for Ukrainians but for applicants from other countries — so it could be beneficial to pursue multiple routes if an applicant seeks permanent residence in the U.S. To learn more about Asylum, read our article here: https://ukrainetaskforce.org/can-ukrainians-seek-asylum-in-us/
Each individual’s and family’s situation is highly specific, so there could be other pathways not mentioned here. At the same time, not everyone will qualify for each of the above options.
This information is intended for educational purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice. By reading this, you agree that this information is not a substitute for legal counsel and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Please note that we are not able to offer direct filing assistance or personalized legal advice through this forum. Please consult a qualified attorney to discuss your own situation and to obtain assistance with specific matters.
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