Tens of thousands of Ukrainians can stay in the US without deportation

Ukraine and American flags
Photo credit Getty Images
By , KCBS Radio

Tens of thousands of Ukrainians who are already living in the United States will be allowed to stay in the country without fear of deportation.

The Department of Homeland Security on Thursday granted Ukraine Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which allows Ukrainians on temporary student, tourist or business visas to legally stay in the U.S. for 18 months. It also allows them to apply for work permits.

The designation is expected to benefit 75,100 Ukrainians in the U.S., according to CNN.

In granting the designation, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas cited "the full-scale Russian military invasion into Ukraine, which marks the largest conventional military action in Europe since World War II."

"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," 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."

A country may be designated for TPS if it meets at least one of three circumstances: ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or extraordinary and temporary conditions.

The government said Ukraine was granted the status based on "both ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions in Ukraine that prevent Ukrainian nationals, and those of no nationality who last habitually resided in Ukraine, from returning to Ukraine safely."

Individuals eligible for TPS must be a national of the designated country or a person without nationality who last resided in the designated country. Once granted TPS, an individual with an expired visa cannot be deported. They also cannot be detained by the government on the basis of their immigration status.

Ukrainians who were living in the U.S. as March 1, 2022 are eligible for TPS, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Those who attempt to travel to the U.S. after March 1 will not be eligible. Ukraine's TPS status is effective for 18 months.

The decision to grant TPS to Ukrainians is "an important move that speaks to our history as a safe haven for those facing oppression," Ali Noorani, the head of the National Immigration Forum, told NPR.

Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, applauded the relief for Ukrainians but also urged the White House to give extend the TPS benefit to nationals from Cameroon, Ethiopia and Afghanistan.

"Temporary Protected Status was created by Congress for exactly this purpose -- to protect people whose home countries have experienced armed conflict, an environmental disaster or extraordinary conditions that prevent people from safely returning home," Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, said in a statement.

TPS is temporary benefit that does not lead to lawful permanent resident status or give any other immigration status, according to the government. The program, however, isn't without controversy. Critics say TPS ultimately lets people who receive the designation stay in the U.S. permanently, the New York Times reported.

LISTEN on the Audacy App
Sign Up and Follow Audacy
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images