The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has put the entire world on edge. For Ukrainians in the United States, their anxiety is greater because there are those whose temporary visas will expire soon, and they have no place to go because their home country is under siege.
However, for more than 20 years, the United States has generously permitted those nationals who feel unsafe returning home to seek asylum in the United States by seeking Temporary Protected Status (TPS). This allows individuals to remain in the United States under certain conditions until circumstances are more favorable to return home.
Those nationals who are interested in obtaining TPS status should speak with a seasoned immigration lawyer who can help them navigate the process and guide them through each step.
What Is TPS?
The TPS program provides nationals of a specifically designated nation temporary immigration status. The program came about as part of the Immigration Act of 1990. Those eligible are originally from those nations suffering from ongoing armed conflict, environmental conditions, or other extraordinary temporary conditions. On March 3, the United States announced the designation of Ukraine for TPS for 18 months.
The benefits of obtaining such a status enables the beneficiary with a work permit. In additional, they will be safe from deportation until the designation expires. The status also means that they can apply for travel authorization, and during the life of this status, they are protected from being detained by the Department of Homeland Security.
It is important to note that although the TPS can extend for a significant period, it is not a pathway toward citizenship, nor can it evolve into another form of immigration status. It is meant simply as a temporary measure for those foreign nationals who cannot return home for whatever reason.
Although this status is not a guarantee toward anything, it is also not a deterrent either. You are still able to engage in multiple immigration services, including:
- Applying for nonimmigrant status.
- Filing for adjustment of status based on an immigrant petition.
- Applying for any other immigration benefit or protection for which you may be eligible.
If you are still seeking another immigration status, you must still meet all relevant criteria even if you have been granted TPS status. In addition, applying for TPS will not have an impact if you have also filed an application for asylum or any other pending immigration benefit and vice versa.
Who Is Eligible to Apply for TPS Status?
There are certain qualifications that foreign nationals must meet before they can apply for TPS status:
- Being a national of a country designated for TPS, or a person without a nationality who last lived in the designated country for an extended period.
- Filing during the open initial registration or re-registration period or meeting the requirements for late initial filing during any extension of your country’s TPS designation.
- Having been continuously physically present (CPP) in the United States since the effective date of the most recent designation date of your country
- Having been continuously residing (CR) in the United States since the date specified for your country
There are exceptions to the CPP and CR requirements, and those are for brief, casual, and innocent departures from the United States. When you do formally apply for TPS status, you must inform United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) about all absences from the United States since the CPP and CR dates. USCIS will determine whether the exception applies in your case.
If you are unsure if you qualify under these conditions, speak with an immigration lawyer who will be able to help you determine your eligibility.
What Will I Need Before I Apply for TPS Status?
To make an application to achieve TPS status, you must file directly with the USCIS. You must file Form I-821, which is the Application for Temporary Protected Status, along with evidence, fees, or a fee waiver request. The evidence should include:
- Identity and nationality evidence: You will need to verify your identity and that you are a national of a country designated for TPS.
- Date of entry evidence: This includes documentation that proves when you entered the United States.
- CR evidence: Finally, you must produce proof that you have been in this country since the CR date specified for your country.
What Is the Process for Applying for TPS Status?
Once you have gathered your evidence, there is a formal application process, and an immigration lawyer will be there with you every step of the way. The steps that are part of the applications process are as follows:
- File your petition: Once you have gathered all your evidence and other relevant forms, you must submit it to the appropriate address. Remember to sign your application and include the correct fee.
- USCIS receives application: Upon receipt of your application, the USCIS will ensure that there are no mistakes, including an incorrect fee or a lack of evidence. If everything is in order, the applicant will receive a receipt notice.
- Submission of biometrics: After deeming your application complete, the USCIS will reach out to you to schedule an appointment for you to come to an Application Support Center to submit your biometrics, which includes a photograph, signature, and/or fingerprints.
- Keep your appointment: Make sure that you make your appointment. If you fail to show up and not reschedule it, you could be placing your entire application in jeopardy.
- USCIS determines work eligibility: For those seeking work eligibility status, they will receive it or be denied at this point. Be aware that the USCIS receives a significant number of applications per year, and it may take time to get through the entire process, so you must be patient.
- Request for more evidence: It is at this point that the USCIS may request additional documentation or evidence from you if there is any need for such.
- Final decision: The USCIS will decide on your application. The agency will either approve or deny your application. If they deny it, you will receive a letter explaining the decision and what steps you can take to fix the situation.
Monitor the USCIS website for any changes to nation designations under the TPS status, as this will impact your opportunity to apply for the status.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Will Help You Apply for TPS Status
If you are a Ukrainian national and unable to return home because of the current situation, our Philadelphia immigration lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. will help you apply for TPS status. We have experience in these matters and will help you through this process. Call us at 215-925-4435 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and nationwide.