This article discusses Temporary Protected Status for Ukraine or TPS for Ukrainians in USA, including eligibility and how to apply. On March 3, 2022, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the designation of Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months due to the ongoing war in the country.
In general, a country may be designated for Temporary Protected Status when conditions in the country fall into one or more of the three statutory bases for designation:
- ongoing armed conflict,
- environmental disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes
- extraordinary and temporary conditions.
In the case of Ukraine, this designation is based on both ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions that prevent Ukrainian nationals from returning to Ukraine safely. These conditions result from the full-scale Russian military invasion into Ukraine, which marks the largest conventional military action in Europe since World War II. According to the US government, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has caused a humanitarian crisis. That includes a significant number of refugees fleeing the country, damage to civilian infrastructure, many people left without basic necessities including electricity, water, access to food, shelter and emergency medical services.
Ukraine receiving a TPS designation (TPS Ukraine) means that Ukrainian citizens who were present in the United States on or before March 1, 2022, are eligible to apply for and receive a Temporary Protected Status for 18 months. Once an individual receives a TPS, he or she is not subject to removal from the United States for the designated period of time (18 months) and may also request employment authorization to support themselves while in the United States. In the case of Ukraine, individuals who attempt to travel to the United States after March 1, 2022, will not be eligible for TPS.
Ukrainians will be able to apply for TPS after the designation goes into effect following a publication in the Federal Register. The Federal Register notice will provide instructions for applying for TPS and for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). TPS applicants must meet all eligibility requirements and undergo security and background checks.
To qualify and be eligible for TPS, a Ukrainian citizen must:
- Be continuously physically present in the United States since the effective date of designation, March 1, 2022
- Have continuously resided in the United States since a date specified by the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
- Not have been convicted of a felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States
- Not be barred from asylum for persecuting an individual, inciting terrorist activity, or other violations
- Not be inadmissible under immigration rules for other criminal or national security reasons.
Ukrainian nationals who are already inside the U.S. and who have a valid nonimmigrant visa status (H-1B, O-1, etc.) do not need to apply for TPS, nor do Ukrainian nationals who hold Lawful Permanent Resident status (green card holders). TPS is generally designed as a protection for those individuals who cannot return safely to their home country and who have no other lawful basis to remain in the United States. For example, individuals from Ukraine who arrived with a tourist visa in the US and the legal status in the United States is set to expire can apply for TPS.
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