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Temporary Protected Status is Expanded for Ukrainians Seeking U.S. Refuge Amid Russia’s War

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sparked the largest refugee crisis since World War II, forcing nearly 5 million people to flee the country in less than three months, according to the United Nations. As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to bring devastation and bloodshed, The Biden Administration is taking steps to help refugees by expanding Temporary Protected Status (TPS) – a temporary immigration status provided to nationals from countries experiencing armed conflict, environmental disasters and other extraordinary emergencies that would prevent their safe return – eligibility for Ukrainians living in the U.S., moving up the program’s cut-off date by six weeks to April 19, 2022.

In early March, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, announced a TPS program to shield Ukrainians in the U.S. from deportation because of the war. At the time, Secretary Mayorkas stated that only Ukrainians living in the U.S. as of March 1, 2022 would qualify, which also provides work permits and social security numbers. This past week, however, Mayorkas said in a notice that Ukrainians continuously residing in the U.S. as of April 11, 2022 would be eligible for TPS if they meet other eligibility requirements and pass background checks. It is best to consult with an Immigration Attorney about the qualification details. The cut-off date change from March 1st to April 19th could make thousands of additional Ukrainians who have managed to reach the U.S. following the Russian invasion eligible for TPS. USCIS estimates that 59,600 Ukrainians could officially file an application under the new designation. There are currently approximately 75,000 Ukrainians living in New Jersey, with most holding United States citizenship status, while others have green cards and non-immigrant statuses, such as student visas.

The Specifics for TPS Registration Under Ukraine’s Designation

All individuals who wish to request TPS under the designation of Ukraine can file an application beginning on April 19, 2022. To be eligible, individuals must demonstrate their continuous residence in the United States since April 11, 2022, and continuous physical presence in the United States since the designation date in the Federal Register notice – April 19, 2022.

Individuals applying for TPS under the Ukraine designation must submit Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status, during the 18-month initial registration period that runs from April 19, 2022 through Oct. 19, 2023. When filing, applicants can also request an Employment Authorization Document in order to secure a Social Security Card by submitting a completed Form I-765 with their Form I-821. Both applications may be submitted online.

The New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA) Steps Up to Help

The NJSBA stands in solidarity with Ukraine in recognition of the humanitarian crisis created by the ongoing war. There are an estimated 75,000 residents of Ukrainian descent living in New Jersey, many who arrived as refugees from the former Soviet Union, according to Gov. Phil Murphy’s office. The latest upheaval in Ukraine has led millions to flee the country, while damage to civilian infrastructure has left many without electricity or water or access to food, basic supplies and emergency medical services, according to the Federal Department of Homeland Security.

In support of their mission to help those in need, the NJSBA hosted a webinar on Friday, April 22, 2022 for attorneys who are interested in offering legal aid to Ukrainians who wish to apply for TPS. This special training session, hosted by the NJSBA Immigration Law Section, addressed TPS basics including its history, who is eligible, forms, fees, and travel authorization requirements.

Michele Alcalde, the Chair of NJSBA’s Immigration Law Section chair, and one of the webinar’s speakers, believes the TPS designation could give needed relief to thousands in the Garden State. The form itself, according to Attorney Alcalde, is not complicated but certain fields on the form need to be filled out carefully, as there are legal consequences to errors.

The webinar prepared those in attendance with the tools necessary to volunteer at two legal clinics at the NJSBA Law Center in New Brunswick – June 18 and June 25 – to help Ukrainian nationals fill out their TPS applications.  Both dates fall on Saturdays and the legal clinics will be open to the public from 9am to 1pm.  Attorney Alcalde strongly believes that public interest or pro bono work is part of “what we are as attorneys and our role in furthering the public good overall. It doesn’t matter if you’re an immigration law practitioner. There’s something about helping others that generates personal satisfaction and resonates with those you serve.” Clinic updates will be available at njsba.com.

More Hope for Ukrainian Nationals

Late last week, a new, expedited humanitarian parole program that will help Ukrainians with U.S. sponsors was announced by the Biden Administration offering more hope and the promise to streamline a path to the United States. According to President Biden, the program “Uniting for Ukraine,” will complement existing pathways and contribute to its goal of welcoming up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees fleeing the worn-torn country.

Under this program, which is being administered by DHS, Ukrainians can obtain up to two years of humanitarian parole in the U.S. if they were residents of Ukraine as of Feb. 11, 2022, have a U.S. citizen sponsor such as a family member or nongovernmental organization, and pass security and health checks including vaccinations. Parolees would be eligible to obtain work permits in the United States. Attorney Alcalde and other Immigration practitioners nationwide are on standby waiting for the full details of the legal standards that will be applied and what the application process will be.  It was officially due to start online on April 25, 2022.

As the situation becomes more dire with many Ukrainians being denied entry on tourist visas and others trying to cross the U.S. southern land border, the humanitarian program will provide additional relief.

The Law Office Of Michele Alcalde Is Prepared to Assist Ukrainian Immigrants Through the Legal and Emotional Hurdles They Face Coming to the U.S.

The war on Ukraine has spurred one of the worst humanitarian crises in our history. While Ukrainian nationals continue to flee the horrors of the invasion, the U.S. is putting into motion new programs to assist them find safety. But the processes along the way are not easy. Imagine coming to a new country under these horrific circumstances and trying to make sense of all the rules and forms. Michele Alcalde not only knows immigration law unequivocally but does so with compassion and empathy supporting refugees as they try to rebuild their lives. As the Chair of the NJSBA’s Immigration Law section, Michele has been instrumental in organizing training programs to assist attorneys in filing TPS applications and will continue to sponsor additional workshops as new programs unfold. There is no question or hurdle too big or too small. Find us on our social media accounts or call us at 732.766.1407.

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