Today, we called on President Biden, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to immediately extend and redesignate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Ukraine for 18-months. The Ukraine Immigration Task Force signed a compelling letter drafted by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) describing the worsening humanitarian situation in Ukraine caused by Russia’s relentless war and criminal brutality against civilians.
The request highlights how conditions that originally prompted the designation have significantly escalated. This includes attacks on civilians – including children – destruction of civilian infrastructure, forced deportations, and other grave human rights abuses. The ongoing war in Ukraine has left 17.6 million people in need of humanitarian assistance as of May 2023. Escalations in violence and worsening mine contamination — with nearly 30 percent of Ukraine’s territory contaminated with explosive ordnances — create obstacles to humanitarian access and continue to force civilians from their homes.
In addition to Russia’s launching of missile and drone strikes throughout Ukraine, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) detailed in its Ukraine 2022 Human Rights Report, “serious human rights abuses committed by Russia’s forces in occupied areas,” including mass killings, forced disappearances, torture, and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, “forced deportation and adoptions of Ukraine’s children to Russian families,” and other human rights abuses.
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. Department of State. TPS is a protection available to individuals of all immigration statuses, including those without a valid status or undocumented individuals, who meet the legal eligibility requirements.
As of February 2023, more than 271,000 Ukrainians were estimated to have been admitted to the United States. While an estimated 20 percent were granted humanitarian parole through the Uniting for Ukraine (U4U) program, a large percentage was admitted via visas or entered through another pathway. Many of those individuals face expiring statuses or are already without valid status, i.e. undocumented.
Currently, only Ukrainian nationals who arrived in the United States on or before April 11, 2022 and have been physically present in the U.S. continuously since April 19, 2022 may apply for TPS. Ukrainians who arrived in the U.S. after April 11 are not eligible to apply for TPS.
The letter, which was also signed by Razom for Ukraine, Church World Service (CWS), TPS-DED Administrative Advocacy Coalition (AAC), and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), issued an urgent plea to redesignate Ukraine for a new term of TPS while at the same time extending TPS for the up to 25,000 Ukrainians in the U.S. who currently hold this status.
The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Department of State, will determine whether to redesignate or extend the current TPS term for Ukraine. A decision is expected to be announced by August 19, 2023.
If Ukraine is redesignated for TPS, Ukrainian nationals who are in the United States when the new date is designated who meet the legal eligibility criteria will be eligible to apply for the new TPS term. Ukrainians who entered the U.S. after the end of the current eligibility cutoff (April 11, 2022) and remained physically present here as of the date specified in the official notice will be able to apply for the new term when the new registration period opens. All those who were eligible for the previous term but did not apply for whatever reason will also be able to apply for the new term.
Ukrainian nationals who currently hold TPS status will need to reapply for the new term, since their TPS protection is only in effect through October 19. However, if Ukraine is simultaneously extended and redesignated for TPS, then Ukrainian citizens who already hold TPS as of the new extension/redesignation date will be able to simply re-register for the new term without going through the full re-application process. If TPS is extended for Ukraine, existing TPS holders who wish to extend their status must re-register during the 60-day re-registration period for their country’s designation.
To learn more about TPS for Ukrainians, read our article here:
In light of the ever-present danger from Russian aggression that continues to threaten the safety of Ukrainians across all parts of Ukraine, we urge Secretary Mayorkas to act now to redesignate Ukraine for TPS and extend TPS status for Ukrainians who currently have this protection for another 18 months.
The full letter to the Biden Administration can be found here:
Read the press statement from the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants here: