Temporary Protective Status (TPS) For Ukrainian Refugees

Refugees Silhouette

Yakov Spektor recently had the opportunity to speak with Mike Levitis of JurisQ.com and discuss TPS for Ukranian Refugees, and what options refugees have in coming to the US.

Mike Levites

Good day everybody, this is Mike Levites from jurisq.com. And we are back with immigration attorney Yakov Spektor. With everything going on in the world I know you’re very busy these days, especially with Ukrainian refugees. As I understand new rules came out regarding TPS, TPS is Temporary Protected Status for Ukrainian refugees. And I’ve read in some papers that now up to 60,000 Ukrainians in US will be eligible to participate. Which to me is not enough, I just want to do a little preface or little forward, I don’t think it’s nearly enough. There are millions of people that are displaced in Ukraine and outside Ukraine and Poland and surrounding countries. And the White House has to do better. Yesterday, I was published in Washington Post newspaper, because I wrote a letter in March to the White House to President Biden demanding more quotas demanding more accessibility to US, for the Ukrainian refugees. And from what I understand, only up to 100,000 Ukrainians will be let in, while as we said, there are millions of refugees. We’re going to talk to you Yakov Spektor and explain exactly what you can do to get in.

Yakov Spektor

Actually, you know, this is something that we’ve been waiting for the government to start moving down for more than a month and a half. They announced that they will start accepting TPS applications in the beginning of March. At that point, they said that basically, anybody who would have arrived before March 1 would be eligible. But as of yesterday, they extended that so now anybody who is who, who, who’s who is here since before April 11. But if you arrived on April 12, you are not.

Mike Levites

If you come right now, from Mexico, to America, you’re not eligible.

Yakov Spektor

You’re not, the reason for that is, this program was initially designed to sort of to protect the people who are already in the country from returning back if some natural calamity happened. The government is just using the tools that it has. It’s not passing any new laws, unfortunately, and your efforts of putting pressure, through the media, on the government are very helpful in that. But what TPS is a tool that the government has had in its arsenal for a while. They are just designating people who are already here. We’re happy that they extended it to April 11, because in the last month or so, a lot of Ukrainian refugees who truly were running away from this war are going to be able to apply. But, of course, the government needs to do more. We are hoping they will expand this program even more. Definitely anybody who is here who arrived before April 11 should be registering for it unless unless there is an easier way for them to get permanent status. Unfortunately, that does not mean asylum. If you are here in the United States, you arrived before April 11, you don’t have a green card, and a citizen of Ukraine, and you are questioning if you should apply for political asylum or TPS, definitely apply for TPS. Talk to someone like me about your chances for political asylum. You have one year to apply for political asylum from the time you arrived here. But TPS is definitely something you should be getting on the website, trying to apply for, get your work permit, get your status registered.

Mike Levites

And let me ask you this status, TPS, What rights does it give you? Can you vote? Can you work? What can you do?

Yakov Spektor

Well, that’s actually a great question, Michael. Definitely don’t vote, definitely don’t register to vote, only US citizens are able to vote. Okay. There are some very limited exceptions, but, voting is definitely something that you shouldn’t be doing. If anybody tells you that they will try to register you to vote you don’t want to do that. Unless you’re a citizen of the United States, you should not be voting in the United States.

Mike Levites
What about work? Can you work?

Yakov Spektor
Now the work permit, that’s something that comes with TPS. But it’s not automatic, you will have to file a separate application for the work permit. It is a separate filing fee, because once you file for your work permit, the government will send you your social security card. They will assign a social security number to you so that you are able to pay your taxes from any of your employment earnings.

Mike Levites

In your experience, how long does it take to get this permit to work? I know Ukrainians, they’re very hard working people, as any immigrants are, we come here to work to make this a better place for us and for the country. How long does it take usually to get this permits?

Yakov Spektor

The government has been very backed up, people were losing their jobs because it would take it would take them 10-11 months to get the work permits. Now they’re hopefully speeding things up a little bit and we are beginning to see that they’re processing those work permits faster. So how long it is going to take to take them to process the TPS work permits is anyone’s guess really. They’re just beginning to accept the applications so we will see. Now regarding the channel with Mexico, the government is now accepting applications for something called humanitarian parole at the border from Ukrainian refugees. If a Ukrainian refugee comes to the border, and asks to enter without any permissions (visa, work permit, etc.) this is called humanitarian parole, and the government is now accepting applications from the Ukrainian refugees at the Tijuana border crossing. There is now from what I hear a dedicated window that accepts those applications. Now if you get to that window if you’re a Ukrainian refugee in Mexico, they will probably let you in the United States. Especially if you have someone here like friends or relatives who are willing to provide a place to stay. But one thing to note is that as of last week, at that border crossing, the wait time was in excess of 30 hours, I believe. So you might expect to spend days there at the border. One thing to note is if you are in Europe, you’re able to apply for something called displaced persons status in Europe. Now, Europeans, will give people who are in the in the displaced persons status, medical insurance, they will give them some sort of financial aid, they will give them a work permit, and it’s like TPS. But it’s only for European Union Europeans. And they would apply for it in the country that they end up in. As far as the benefits go, it’s a better deal than Temporary Protected Status in the United States.

United States is now accepting applications for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) from Ukrainian citizens already in the United States or who have arrived ON OR BEFORE APRIL 11, 2022. Registering for TPS will allow refugees to obtain work permits and shield them from deportation. The protections will last for 18 months and may be extended. 

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