What 18 Months of Relief PROTECTION Means and How It Can Be ObtainedFor Ukrainians living in the United States while their country is under attack, the welcome news that the Department of Homeland security (DHS) has granted them Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for a period of 18 months is heartening. This however is not a permanent immigration status and is only granted under certain circumstances and comes with restrictions. To prevent deportation during a time of armed conflict at home in Ukraine, it is essential for them to seek the advice of an experienced Philadelphia immigration attorney. Ukrainians in the United States are understandably under immense emotional distress as they fear for their family, friends, and welfare of their country. This is why TPS was granted and why seeking professional legal advice is recommended. There is no need to navigate the system alone.
WHAT IS TPS?The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a foreign country for TPS when conditions in that country temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately. A country may be designated for TPS when conditions in the country fall into one or more of the three statutory bases for designation:
- ongoing armed conflict
- environmental disasters
- extraordinary and temporary conditions
- Cannot be removed from the United States
- Can obtain employment authorization document (EAD)
- May be granted travel authorization
- Apply for nonimmigrant status
- File for adjustment of status based on an immigrant petition
- Apply for any other immigration benefit or protection for which you may be eligible
TPS ELIGIBILITY FOR UKRAINIANSThe designation of TPS for Ukrainians is based on both the ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions in Ukraine that prevent Ukrainian nationals, and those of no nationality who last habitually resided in Ukraine, from returning to Ukraine safely. DHS has determined these conditions result from the full-scale Russian military invasion into Ukraine. This invasion has caused a humanitarian crisis with significant numbers of individuals fleeing and damage to civilian infrastructure that has left many without electricity or water or access to food, basic supplies, shelter, and emergency medical services. DHS, immigration groups and immigration lawyers report that there may be up to 75,000 Ukrainians currently in the United States who could be eligible for TPS from the Department of Homeland Security. This group will be limited to specific eligibility requirements and restrictions:
- Individuals must have been already present in the United States as of March 1, 2022
- Individuals who attempt to travel to the United States after March 1, 2022, will not be eligible for TPS
- Ukraine’s 18-month designation will go into effect on the publication date of the forthcomingFederal Register The Federal Register notice will provide instructions for applying for TPS and an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
- TPS applicants must undergo security and background checks.
SHOULD UKRAINIANS APPLY FOR TPS STATUS?Yes. If a Ukrainian in the United States meets the eligibility requirements, it is critical to apply for TPS as soon as possible. After making that application, you and your immigration lawyer can determine what other rights you may have. Making the TPS application is a critical first step because after once it is received you will be in the United States legally. This means Ukrainians can live in the U.S. without fear of immigration and law enforcement authorities. In addition, a person granted TPS may legally be employed. TPS not only buys peace of mind, it also buys time to determine what, if any, other immigration rights might be available under the law, such as seeking asylum status.
ARE UKRAINIANS ELIGIBLE FOR ASYLUM?The TPS designation by DHS does not necessarily mean a Ukrainian is guaranteed asylum status. They are two different legal designations. What is asylum? In the United States, it is part of the fabric of our culture to demonstrate a commitment to human rights not only within our borders, but worldwide. Non-citizens who live in fear of having their basic human rights infringed upon may apply for political asylum in the U.S. To be eligible for asylum status, one must have a reasonable fear that they will be persecuted in their home country because of their race; religion; national origin; political opinion; or membership in a particular social group (for example LGBT status individuals, members of certain ethnic or tribal groups, and female victims of domestic violence). A loss of money or small restriction on one’s liberty will typically not be enough to trigger asylum status.
What Is the Difference Between Asylum and Refugee Status?In short, if a person seeking sanctuary is already within the United States but feels that they cannot return home without having their basic rights infringed, then they would apply for asylum status. Those who are living outside the United States but meet the other eligibility requirements such as a reasonable fear of persecution, would apply for refugee status. Individuals who are granted asylum enjoy a wide range of rights, including the ability to live and earn money in the United States.
Who Is Eligible for Asylum?Individuals can apply for asylum regardless of whether they are lawfully in the United States. In other words, an undocumented immigrant can still be eligible for political asylum. To apply for asylum, one must either request it at a port-of-entry when first entering the United States, or file an application within one year of arrival in the U.S.
In some cases, an individual may be eligible after a year in the United States, for example if circumstances have changed considerably in one’s home country, or extenuating circumstances made it impossible to file within a year of your arrival. In this situation, one still must file for asylum within a reasonable period of time after the extenuating circumstances have been lifted.
The Philadelphia immigration lawyers at the Law Offices of MC Law Group, LLC provide legal counsel and representation in all areas of immigration law. For over 20 years, our experienced team of deportation lawyers have been representing clients before the Department of Homeland Security, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), all levels of the judicial and immigration courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), and the Supreme Court.Call us at 215-883-9820 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout the tri-state area, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide.