BREAKING: Temporary Protected Status Announced for Ukrainians in the US as of March 1, 2022

On March 3, 2022, USCIS announced Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Ukrainians for an 18-month period beginning March 1, 2022, through September 1, 2023.

What is Temporary Protected Status?

U.S. law authorizes TPS upon a finding that extraordinary and temporary conditions in the foreign country prevent its nationals from returning safely, unless allowing those foreign nationals to remain temporarily in the U.S. is contrary to the national interest of the United States.

Who May Apply?

To be eligible for TPS under this designation Ukrainians must have continuously resided in the United States since March 1, 2022. Individuals who attempt to travel to the United States after March 1, 2022, will not be eligible for TPS.

A number of other factors can make an applicant ineligible, so it’s important to have an experienced attorney review your specific case.

If Approved, What is the Benefit of TPS?

Receiving TPS allows a person to remain in the U.S. with employment authorization for the authorized period including extensions.

How Long will an Authorization Period Last?  Can it be Extended?

An initial 18-month authorization period may be extended, and after a certain number of extensions, a country may be re-designated for TPS.  It is not uncommon for TPS to be extended, sometimes for many years.

Does TPS Provide Permanent Residence or a Path to Citizenship?

It is important to understand that TPS is not permanent residence, does not provide a path to citizenship, and at some point will be terminated (unless Congress takes other action affecting the specific group of TPS holders from the designated country).  However, TPS does prevent a person from being sent back to a country that is undergoing a severe humanitarian emergency, as determined by the Department of  Justice, and to work in the U.S. while they are here.

Applicants Must Apply During the Required Registration Period

There is a required registration period that cannot be missed!  If a qualifying applicant does not register during the required initial registration period, s/he will not be able to apply thereafter except under very limited circumstances.

Employment Authorization and I-9 Completion

If approved, employers are required to accept the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) on the same basis as any other category, including monitoring the expiration date, and complying with announced extensions.  Because it is common in the case of TPS for the government to extend the EAD automatically based on notice published in the Federal Register, employers should stay current of the applicable deadlines.

We remind employers that all other employment eligibility verification requirements and immigration-related employment practices remain in full force.  If you have any doubt or question regarding an employment authorization document, the best course is to contact an experienced I-9 compliance attorney such as Barbara Marcouiller to guide you.

NOTE: This post provides timely notice of this important development.  It does not constitute legal advice in any given case, nor does it create an attorney/client relationship.  A detailed review of all the requirements and potential pitfalls is beyond the scope of this post. Thus it is critical to retain legal counsel if you want to know how these and other laws and regulations will affect you.

For questions regarding TPS, employment authorization, and for employers regarding employees with this status or who may be eligible, contact attorney Barbara A. Marcouiller.