Temporary Protective Status (TPS) For Ukrainian Refugees

TPS For Ukrainian Refugees

Yakov Spektor recently had the opportunity to discuss TPS for Ukranian Refugees, and what options refugees have in coming to the US.

In the wake of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, thousands of Ukrainian refugees are seeking a haven. A necessary recourse for some of these refugees residing in the U.S. is the Temporary Protective Status (TPS). TPS offers temporary relief from deportation and allows refugees to live and work in the U.S.

Understanding TPS

The Temporary Protective Status (TPS) is a temporary immigration status given by the U.S. government to eligible nationals from designated countries experiencing ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions that make it unsafe to return to their home country.

Individuals eligible for TPS are those who:

  • Are nationals of countries designated for TPS.
  • Have continuously resided in the U.S. since a specified date.
  • Are admissible as immigrants and are not disqualified from TPS for any reason (e.g., have not been convicted of a felony or two or more misdemeanors in the U.S., are not subject to any of the mandatory asylum bars).

In light of the escalating crisis in Ukraine, the U.S. government has recently extended TPS to Ukrainian nationals already in the U.S., providing a critical safety net to those affected by the conflict. This designation allows eligible Ukrainians to live and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation, at least for the designated TPS period.

Benefits of TPS

Despite being a temporary solution, the Temporary Protective Status (TPS) comes with several benefits that significantly impact the lives of the beneficiaries.

  • Protection against Deportation: One of TPS’s primary benefits is protecting against deportation. This means that during the designated period, beneficiaries of TPS cannot be deported based on their immigration status.
  • Employment Authorization: TPS beneficiaries are eligible to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which allows them to work legally in the United States. This can be crucial for individuals displaced by conflict or disaster, supporting them during their stay in the U.S.
  • Travel Authorization: In some cases, TPS beneficiaries might be allowed to travel abroad with advance parole for specific reasons, such as family emergencies or professional obligations.

These benefits offer a lifeline to individuals who, like many Ukrainian refugees, find themselves in dire situations. By offering a reprieve from deportation and a legal avenue to work, TPS can provide both safety and economic stability to those in need.

Limitations and Challenges of TPS

While Temporary Protective Status (TPS) offers a range of benefits for beneficiaries, it has certain limitations and challenges.

  • Temporary Status: As the name suggests, TPS is a temporary status. It doesn’t offer a direct path to permanent residency or U.S. citizenship. When the TPS designation for a particular country is terminated, beneficiaries revert to the immigration status they maintained before TPS (unless that status had already expired).
  • Voting Restrictions: TPS beneficiaries cannot vote in U.S. federal elections. The right to vote is reserved for U.S. citizens.
  • Application Process: The application process for TPS can be complex. Applicants often need legal assistance to navigate the process, including proving continuous residence and meeting strict application deadlines.
  • Uncertain Future: The future of TPS can be uncertain. Designations are made for 6 to 18 months and may be extended, but this is at the discretion of the Secretary of Homeland Security. This uncertainty can cause stress and anxiety for beneficiaries.

These limitations highlight that while TPS can offer significant immediate relief, it’s not a long-term solution for the complex immigration issue. It underscores the need for comprehensive immigration reform that offers more permanent solutions for those affected.

TPS vs. Displaced Person Status in Europe

While the United States offers Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to nationals of designated countries, Europe has a similar provision known as “displaced person” status for refugees. Here’s how they compare:

  • Temporary Protection: TPS and displaced person status offer temporary protection to beneficiaries. They can live legally in the host country without fear of deportation until the termination of their status.
  • Work Authorization: Both statuses usually offer some form of work authorization to beneficiaries, allowing them to support themselves economically during their stay.
  • Access to Social Services: Displaced person status in Europe often allows access to some social services, similar to the benefits some TPS beneficiaries might receive depending on state laws.

Despite these similarities, there are differences in how each system handles long-term solutions for beneficiaries. For instance, certain European countries may have more pathways to permanent residency or citizenship for displaced persons. 

Understanding these differences is important for refugees as they navigate their options and seek the best action for their unique circumstances.

Advice for Ukrainian Refugees

Navigating the complexities of immigration law during a crisis can be overwhelming. According to Yakov Spektor, a seasoned immigration attorney, there are some key steps Ukrainian refugees should consider:

  • Legal Guidance: It is highly recommended that Ukrainian refugees seek professional legal advice when applying for TPS. An experienced immigration attorney can guide you through the process and ensure that all information provided is accurate and all required documentation is submitted correctly.
  • Timely Application: TPS applications are time-sensitive. Refugees should apply as soon as possible within the registration period to make sure to take advantage of this critical benefit.
  • Stay Informed: Immigration policies can change rapidly. Stay informed about policy changes that could affect your TPS status or offer new benefits.

By following this advice, Ukrainian refugees can improve their chances of successfully applying for TPS, protecting themselves from deportation, and gaining the right to work legally in the U.S.

Navigating the Path Ahead

The Temporary Protective Status (TPS) provides a crucial lifeline for Ukrainian refugees amidst the ongoing crisis. While temporary, TPS has substantial implications, from granting protection against deportation to providing work authorization, thus offering stability in turbulent times.

Yet, TPS also has its limitations – it is not a pathway to permanent residency or U.S. citizenship, and the application process can be complex, especially in situations where the Applicant has inadmissibility issues such as a criminal history or any allegations of using fraudulent documents. These challenges underscore the need for comprehensive immigration help from an experienced immigration attorney to help address these issues.

Moreover, the comparison between TPS and Europe’s displaced person status highlights the global scope of the refugee issue and the various approaches taken to address it.

As this discussion concludes, Ukrainian refugees are advised to seek legal guidance, apply for TPS promptly, and stay abreast of changes in immigration policy. These steps can pave the way toward safety and stability amid the uncertainties.

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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