According to reports, the Biden administration is considering implementing protections for Ukrainians in the United States, as Russia invades Ukraine in a rapidly developing situation expected to result in many refugees and displaced persons. Such relief in the United States could include a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Ukraine or a Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) presidential order.
Below are selected highlights of where things stand:
Advocacy Organizations Call for Relief
Immigration and refugee advocacy organizations are calling for the Biden administration to aid Ukrainian nationals in the United States. For example:
- The Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, a coalition of more than 500 college and university presidents, called on the Biden administration to designate Ukraine for TPS and special student relief (SSR) for Ukrainian international students residing or studying in the United States. Miriam Feldblum, Executive Director, noted that SSR would allow eligible students to remain in the United States by suspending or altering rules regarding status, full course of study, and work eligibility during the designation period. “International students from Ukraine will likely face significant obstacles and complexities in the coming weeks, months, and years; and uncertainty over their courses or ability to remain in the United States should not be one of those obstacles,” she said.
- The 15,000-member American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) called for expeditious processing and humanitarian relief such as TPS for Ukrainians in the United States and a moratorium on removals.
According to estimates, of the roughly 104,600 Ukrainian noncitizens in the United States, about 30,000 would be potential TPS or DED beneficiaries, as they do not have U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status.
Consular Services Suspended; Help at Borders
In related developments, consular services in Kyiv have been suspended. Applicants for U.S. nonimmigrant visas may apply in any country in which they are physically present and where there are appointments available, the Department of State said. Those who have an immigrant visa case currently pending with U.S. Embassy Kyiv and would like to transfer processing of an immigration case to another U.S. Embassy must contact the receiving U.S Embassy in that country to authorize and initiate the transfer.
The Department of State announced that Poland is allowing U.S. citizens to enter Poland through the land border with Ukraine. No advance approval is required. The Department provided additional information for U.S. citizens in Ukraine and for those departing it, including advice on border crossings where consular officers are stationed to provide assistance in Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Moldova.
Donetsk/Luhansk Persons Denied Unrestricted Entry
An executive order issued February 21, 2022, suspends the unrestricted immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of certain persons operating in the Donetsk or Luhansk regions of Ukraine.
- “Biden Administration Considering Protecting Ukrainians in the U.S. from Deportation,” CBS News, Feb. 24, 2022
- Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration statement
- AILA statement
- Executive Order, White House, Feb. 21, 2022
- Status of Consular Services in Kyiv, Dept. of State, Feb. 22, 2022
- Information for U.S. Citizens in Ukraine, Feb. 22, 2022