The Biden administration will allow Ukrainians in the US to apply for temporary protected status, shielding them from deportation and allowing them to obtain work permits as Russia continues to invade and bombard their home country, officials announced Thursday.
Immigrant advocates and Democratic politicians have been pushing for the TPS grant since the full-scale invasion launched last week. Since then, Russian forces have attacked by air, land, and sea, sending missiles over major cities across Ukraine, including in residential areas, and threatening the lives of millions. More than a million Ukrainians have fled the country, while those who remained have sought safety in bomb shelters and subway systems or taken up arms to help defend their country.
The designation of temporary protected status will apply to Ukrainians who were in the US as of March 1. The protections will last for 18 months. More than 75,000 Ukrainians in the US are expected to be eligible for the protections.
“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,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. 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.”
DHS officials explained that the decision was necessary due to “extraordinary and temporary conditions” in Ukraine resulting from the Russian military’s invasion.
“This invasion has caused a humanitarian crisis with significant numbers of individuals fleeing and damage to civilian infrastructure that has left many without electricity or water or access to food, basic supplies, shelter, and emergency medical services,” the agency explained said in a statement.
TPS can be granted by the secretary of homeland security in instances when people cannot be safely sent back because of temporary conditions in their home country, such as armed conflict, environmental disasters, and other extreme circumstances.
DHS officials will soon file a notice in the Federal Register to allow Ukrainians currently in the US to obtain the protections.
Before the announcement, ICE officials announced separately that they had temporarily suspended deportation flights to the country.