Urgent Message: Ukrainian Strategies

Ukrainian Strategies

Extending your visitor status if you are in the United States legally: If you are in the US as a visitor, in valid visitor status, you can extend that status by filing an Extension of Status through Form I-539. The application and fee must be received by USCIS before the expiration of your I94. You can get your I94 here. The application should include the following:

A. Form I-539, completed and signed
B. Copy of your I-94
C. Copy of your passport picture page
D. Cover letter briefly describing why you wish to extend your visitor status
E. Filing fees in the amount of $370.00 application fee and $85 biometrics fee made payable to USCIS

Applications that include immediate family members (spouse, children under age 21) should include their I-94, passport picture page, and evidence of relationship (birth certificate, marriage certificate), if readily available. 

If you are filing by mail, use FEDEX or UPS overnight, or if you are filing online, be sure you make a COMPLETE COPY of your application and keep receipts (overnight or online). 

As long as your application is received by USCIS before the expiration of your I94, you continue to stay in valid visitor status through the entire processing time. 

Changing your status to another visa type: 

If you are in the United States in valid status, and qualify or eligible for another status, you can change your status while in the US without having to leave. You could: 

  1. Go to school on a F-1 visa
  2. Work as a professional in H1B status if you had an H1B in the past, or get a cap exempt H1B under the right circumstances
  3. Work in a field of your outstanding ability in O1 status
  4. Secure an investor Visa through E2 and work as an executive, manager, or someone of special knowledge

 You might be able to get a training visa through the J1 but that might require you to leave the US, get a visa, and come back. 

To evaluate your eligibility for any of these options, please go to this online form, complete it, and upload your passport picture page and resume. We will review and get back to you.

Temporary Protected Status: 

The Biden Administration has granted Temporary Protected Status to Ukrainian citizens. TPS is available for Ukrainians who were present in the United Stats on March 1, 2022. This act will be immensely helpful for Ukrainians who are here as refugees, visitors, or their visa is running out. TPS means you do not have to leave the US. You will be granted employment authorization as well but need to file an application for employment. 

If you are outside the United States: 

You can contact the US Embassy Warsaw for how to expedite, transfer, schedule appointments, and seek help for Ukrainian citizens wishing to process their visa through Poland. 

If you are a U.S. citizen with a Ukrainian spouse or child seeking to travel to the United States on a nonimmigrant visa: 

  • If you already have an appointment at U.S. Embassy Warsaw but wish to expedite it, you may request expedition via https://www.ustraveldocs.com/pl/en/expedited-appointment.
  •  If you already began a nonimmigrant visa application process in Ukraine, you may send a request to Support-Poland@ustraveldocs.com to ask for transfer of your “profile” to Warsaw, after which you should be able to continue the process for a Warsaw appointment.

If you are seeking but do not already have an appointment:

  • If you will apply in Warsaw: Visit https://www.ustraveldocs.com/pl/en/step-4 and sign up for a “C1/D” (crew) appointment, even though you are not a crew member. When you come to the Embassy, we will convert your appointment to the proper type.
  • If you will apply in Krakow: Visit https://www.ustraveldocs.com/pl/en/step-4 and sign up for an “F” (student) appointment, even though you are not a student. When you come to the consulate, we will convert your appointment to the proper type.
  • If you are unable to schedule an appointment via this method, you may instead request a “group appointment” via https://ustraveldocs.com/pl/en/group-appointments and suggest a date convenient for you. Once you have submitted your request, please wait for a response from the Embassy, which will come via email and should permit you to schedule an appointment.

If you are a Ukrainian who wants to travel to the United States or a U.S. citizen who has friends, business associates, or NON-IMMEDIATE family who want to travel to the United States:

  • If the traveler already has an appointment at U.S. Embassy Warsaw, but wishes to expedite it, you may request expedition via https://www.ustraveldocs.com/pl/en/expedited-appointment.
  • If the traveler already began a nonimmigrant visa application process in Ukraine, you may send a request to Support-Poland@ustraveldocs.com to ask for transfer of your “profile” to Warsaw, after which you should be able to continue the process for a Warsaw appointment.
  • If the traveler is seeking, but does not already have, an appointment at U.S. Embassy Warsaw or U.S. Consulate Krakow, you may try to schedule an appointment via https://www.ustraveldocs.com/pl/en/step-4.  However, availability is extremely limited.

If you are seeking information about immediate humanitarian assistance in Poland:

  • Almost all refugee cases in countries abroad are first processed by local authorities, in this case the government of Poland.
  • Please visit the government of Poland webpage for information about resources: Office for Foreigners-Information for Ukrainian Nationals. This website provides the locations of official reception points along Poland’s border with Ukraine.
  • In Warsaw, those seeking information on support from the Polish government can direct inquiries to the Office for Foreigners (Urząd do Spraw Cudzoziemców).
  • Urząd do Spraw Cudzoziemców
    Ul. Koszykowa 16
    00- 564 Warsaw, Poland
    tel. +48 47 721 75 75
  • American Citizen Services
    U.S. Embassy Warsaw
    Aleje Ujazdowskie 29/31
    00- 540 Warsaw, Poland
    tel. +48 22 504 2000
    fax +48 22 504 2088

February 25, 2022

The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

The Honorable Alejandro Mayorkas
Secretary of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
301 7th St, SW
Washington, DC 20528

The Honorable Antony Blinken
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C St, NW
Washington, DC 20520


Dear President Biden, Secretary Mayorkas and Secretary Blinken,

The below 177 organizations request an immediate 18-month designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) and Special Student Relief (SSR) for Ukraine. Escalating violence and the devolving humanitarian crisis post-Russian military invasion makes it impossible for Ukrainians currently in the U.S. to safely return to Ukraine at this time. Migration Policy Institute estimates that roughly 30,000 Ukrainians in the United States would be potential beneficiaries of TPS or DED, as they do not have U.S. citizenship or
permanent status.


TPS is a statutory status that allows people from a designated country to remain in the United States while conditions in their home country make safe return impossible. The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can designate a country for TPS if conditions in that country meet the requirements regarding ongoing armed conflict, natural disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions preventing a safe return. These requirements are outlined in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Those who are granted TPS are eligible to receive work permits and remain in the United States during the designation period.
Significantly, TPS can safeguard those who have been denied or may be ineligible for asylum but
are still in need of lifesaving protection.

DED is rooted in the President’s authority to conduct foreign affairs and is a critical foreign policy tool to provide humanitarian protection. Like TPS, DED provides protection from deportation and eligibility for work permits for designated time periods.

SSR may be granted to students from a designated country under an emergent circumstances designation. The Secretary of DHS may give this designation to F-1 students facing unforeseen, severe economic hardship. This hardship must result from an emergent event, such as war or military conflict. SSR allows eligible students to remain in the U.S. by suspending or altering rules regarding status, full course of study, and work eligibility during the designation period.

SSR, like TPS, provides life-saving protection. The “extraordinary and temporary conditions” which would qualify Ukrainians in the United States for TPS include current armed conflict. The “severe economic hardship” that would qualify Ukrainian F-1 students is the emergent armed conflict. The country conditions analysis
below will demonstrate that conditions in Ukraine merit TPS and SSR designations due to armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions as a return to the country would pose a serious threat to the personal safety of Ukrainians. The below described conditions also make a clear policy argument for DED.


On February 23, 2022, Russia launched a military invasion of Ukraine and advanced toward the capital in Kyiv. The Ukrainian government reported 40 casualties within the first 12 hours of the invasion. As the situation continues to devolve, it will prove difficult if not impossible for Ukrainians to safely return to the country in the immediate future.

On February 12, 2022, the U.S. Department of State issued a Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory to Ukraine. 13 In the advisory, the Department of State wrote that “U.S. citizens in Ukraine should be aware that the U.S. government will not be able to evacuate U.S. citizens in the event of Russian military action anywhere in Ukraine. Military action may commence at any time and without warning and would also severely impact the U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide consular services, including assistance to U.S. citizens in departing Ukraine.” On February 13, 2022, the Department of State suspended consular services at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, and moved them to Lviv, further from the Russian border.

Senior Biden administration officials briefed lawmakers on February 3, 2022, warning that a full invasion could result in potential deaths of 25,000 to 50,000 civilians, 5,000 to 25,000 members of the Ukrainian military, and 3,000 to 10,000 members of the Russian army. Officials also estimated that it would produce one million to five million refugees. The human costs of armed conflict are clear and will contribute to current humanitarian crises in the country. There are already almost 1.5 million internally displaced people in Ukraine from conflict. Last year, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated that 3.4 million people living in Ukraine need humanitarian assistance. The Ukraine Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) called for $168 million to assist 1.9 million people in 2021. However, in August 2021, the Ukraine HRP was only 27 percent funded, demonstrating a level of unmet need even before the current military invasion.

Given the already unmet humanitarian need in the country and the effects of armed conflict with Russia, Ukraine is in no state to receive TPS/DED and SSR eligible Ukrainians. Returning these Ukrainians to an at-war country would further destabilize the precarious conditions. For this reason, TPS/DED and SSR for Ukraine support humanitarian interests and address U.S. foreign policy goals by alleviating pressure on the Ukrainian government while the crisis is underway and help stabilize Europe by not adding to the predicted refugee crisis. Returning these nationals to the country poses a serious threat to their personal safety.


Ukraine is in the middle of armed conflict contributing to deteriorating country conditions and humanitarian crises. We urge the administration to: (1) immediately designate TPS or DED and SSR for Ukraine, (2) publish timely Federal Register Notices, and (3) launch a public information campaign to notify the impacted community of the decision and any actions they must take by the decision’s announcement.

Please contact the following individuals to discuss this urgent matter: Matthew La Corte, Niskanen Center at mlacorte@niskanencenter.org, Lora Adams, TPS-DED Administrative Advocacy Coalition at lora@masadc.com, Catharine Christie, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants at cchristie@uscrimail.org, and Lisa Parisio, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., at lparisio@cliniclegal.org.

Stay up to date