Amid the chaos and unrest in Ukraine due to Russia’s invasion and armed conflict, Immigration attorneys, activist groups, and some Democratic Senators are calling for the Biden Administration to give Ukrainians currently in the United States protection from Deportation.  Indeed, the Department of Homeland Security is reportedly considering granting Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Ukrainian nationals. Notably, the National TPS Alliance, more than 500 College and University Presidents, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network  and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants have all called on the administration to provide some type of protection for Ukranians currently in our borders. 

What is TPS? TPS protects nationals of designated countries living in the United States from potential deportation if they are eligible, allowing them to apply for work permits.  TPS status is conferred based upon three criteria: 1. armed ongoing conflict; 2. environmental disasters; and/or 3. “extraordinary and temporary conditions.”

A notable alternative to TPS which the Biden administration is currently considering would be the issuance of a similar avenue called Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), a temporary immigration benefit, which would be specifically designated for Ukrainian nationals and would be issued at the president’s discretion.

At the helm of congressional advocacy for Ukranian protections is Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey who has is known for his strong beliefs about granting TPS for other nationals of countries including Guatemala,  El Salvador, Honduras, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.

Immigration Attorney Edward G. Shulman, of the nationally recognized law firm, the Shulman Law Group (SLG), and former Chair of the New Jersey Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), was interviewed telephonically this morning about possible protections for Ukranians currently residing in the United States.  Shulman stated “TPS was created for the exact purpose of what Ukranians are facing at the current juncture. Seeking refuge and protections from violence and persecution are a fundamental human right.  There is no question that forcing a return to Ukraine in the wake of ongoing armed conflict and unsafe conditions would knowingly place individuals at risk and in harm’s way.”  Shulman stated that he and his law firm are poised to maximally assist any Ukranians in need of Immigration assistance.  He also encouraged individuals to continue reading his blog for updates on new laws or government-endorsed protections for individuals in this situation. Attorney Shulman further noted that in addition to protections for Ukranians currently in the United States, there will likely be a more comprehensive approach adopted to include helping address the massive displacement anticipated by this crisis, such as programming for refugee resettlement, asylum, humanitarian parole, and other options for legal immigration.