Options for Ukrainians and Afghans Inside and Outside the United States: Refugee Status, Humanitarian Parole, and Temporary Protected Status | Sherman & Howard LLC


With recent humanitarian crises and armed conflicts in Ukraine and Afghanistan, refugee issues currently dominate news cycles. The families and friends of those who have fled these conflicts are eagerly awaiting to hear how they can be reunited with their loved ones and whether they will be able to enter – or stay – here in the United States. Likewise, departmental organizations that have foreign nationals as employees or volunteers whom they try to assist, or which have affiliated entities in one or both countries with staff or volunteers whom they try to assist. help, can actively search for options. Depending on where the individuals are, there may be a potential solution.

Individuals outside the United States

People who have fled their home countries to non-US countries face an uphill battle to obtain a US visa. Consulates across Europe do not issue B-1/B-2 tourist visas to Ukrainian citizens, even if individuals swear they will return to Ukraine when the conflict ends and have no intention of staying in the USA

On March 24, 2022, President Biden announced that the United States would welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees through various immigration pathways, including formal refugee status and “humanitarian parole,” which allows people who would otherwise not be able to obtain a visa. come to the United States for humanitarian reasons. Currently, the US government is processing tens of thousands of refugee and humanitarian parole applications for Afghan citizens as part of “Operation Allies Welcome”. It remains to be seen whether Ukrainian applications for humanitarian parole will be processed after those currently pending Afghan applications or if there will be an accelerated application process.

Obtaining refugee status can be a long and tedious process, as immigration and nationality law prescribes a narrow legal definition of who qualifies as a refugee. The applicant must be invited to apply and then go through a consular interview and evidence collection process. Refugee status is determined on a case-by-case basis, rather than granted to a class of people. However, if a person is admitted to the United States as a refugee, they can apply for a green card after one year, creating a streamlined path to permanent residency and citizenship.

In contrast, those on humanitarian parole will have a shorter process to come to the United States but will receive fewer benefits. Humanitarian parole alone does not open the way to permanent residency or citizenship. Individuals entering the United States through humanitarian parole should be eligible for permanent residence or citizenship through family-based or employment-based immigration. However, humanitarian parole allows individuals to apply for work authorization, allowing them to live and work legally for the duration of their stay. Work authorization is not a guarantee with humanitarian parole, and parolees may need a sponsor to support them while in the United States.

As President Biden has yet to announce the selection process for these 100,000 Ukrainians, those who have employees, volunteers or relatives outside the United States can only await the announcement and zealously advocate for clear and decisive action to bring these people to the United States.

Individuals in the United States

For those who managed to arrive in the United States before the conflict, Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) is protection against deportation for foreign citizens who may not have legal status or who fear lose their legal status. Similar to humanitarian parole, TPS on its own does not provide any immigration benefit or pathway to permanent residency, but it does prevent individuals from being deported from the United States and returned to their home country during active conflict, unrest or natural disasters.

Like humanitarian parole, TPS allows individuals to apply for work authorization. Having work authorization allows people with TPS to legally live and work in the United States, allowing them to obtain a driver’s license and a Social Security card. TPS holders can also be approved for a travel document, so they can travel inside and outside the United States without losing their status. TPS also does not prevent a person from later applying for an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa, provided the person meets the requirements for that specific visa.

Although each initial TPS grant lasts 18 months, the Department of Homeland Security often extends the grant in 18-month increments, depending on whether or not the individual’s home county remains in crisis. Extensions can often be difficult for employers and individuals to navigate, as they are often made by proclamation or announcement on the US Citizenship and Immigration Service website without publishing new documents or rules in the Federal Register.

To be eligible for TPS and associated work authorization, a person must be from one of the countries designated for TPS and have met the US entry deadline. When applying for TPS, a person must present evidence in three categories: proof that the person is a national of a foreign country designated for TPS; proof of entry into the United States before the deadline associated with their nationality; and proof of continued residence in the United States since entry. For some countries, there is an additional physical presence requirement. Foreign language documents serving as proof must be accompanied by certified translations. Although there are fees associated with GST applications, fee waivers may be available for qualified individuals.

Currently, the countries designated for TPS are Burma (Myanmar), El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, l Afghanistan and Ukraine.

Afghanistan and Ukraine each received their TPS designation in March 2022. Afghan citizens must have arrived in the United States by March 15, 2022 and must have continuously resided in the United States since that date to receive TPS . Citizens of Ukraine must have arrived in the United States before March 1, 2022 and also have remained in the United States permanently. As of March 24, 2022, the registration period and process for people from Ukraine and Afghanistan has not been announced in the Federal Register.

Navigating the TPS process can be confusing for both individual candidates and organizations looking to hire people with TPS status. Faith-based organizations trying to help people still in Europe or who have already arrived here in the United States face additional challenges.


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