White House allows Ukrainian nationals to stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation

Ukrainian students at the University of Kansas Mykola Hordiichuk, Elina Shutova and Andrew Brytsko cover their hearts as the Ukraine national anthem plays. Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is granting Temporary Protected Status that will shield Ukrainian nationals living in the United States from deportation, following pressure from members of Congress.

“Russia’s premeditated and unprovoked attack on Ukraine has resulted in an ongoing war, senseless violence, and Ukrainians forced to seek refuge in other countries,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. “In these extraordinary times, we will continue to offer our support and protection to Ukrainian nationals in the United States.”

Ukrainians living in the U.S. as of March 1 of this year will be eligible for TPS designation of up to 18 months; it will not apply to Ukrainians arriving after March 1. The designation will allow those in the program to be protected from deportation, as well as apply for work permits.

The Center for Migration Studies in New York estimates that there are about 28,000 Ukrainians in the U.S. that would benefit from the program.

Some states with the highest populations of Ukrainians without permanent status include Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida and New Jersey.

TPS does not grant permanent U.S. status and only applies to those already in the country, not those who are fleeing. One million people have left Ukraine, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency.

U.S. House lawmakers are also pushing the Biden administration to immediately designate Student Special Relief for Ukrainians.

A letter, led by Rep. Jimmy Gomez, a California Democrat, and signed by 98 members urged the president to extend both TPS and the student program for 18 months because “given the already unmet humanitarian need in the country and the effects of the armed conflict with Russia, the Ukrainian government is in no state to receive TPS and SSR eligible Ukrainians.”

SSR would allow for the temporary suspension of certain requirements put in place by DHS for a foreign student studying in the U.S. “from parts of the world that are experiencing emergent circumstances.” Some of those requirements include “duration of status, full course of study and off-campus employment eligibility.”

Russia began its invasion into Ukraine on Feb. 24. Ukraine’s health ministry reported that at least 250 civilians have been killed in the attack.

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Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: info@georgiarecorder.com. Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.

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