Options For Ukrainians With Expiring Parole
Humanitarian parole of Ukrainians admitted at the Mexican border expires in early 2023
- For Ukrainians who came through Mexico and were granted parole, the parole will expire in March-April 2023.
- Senior officials at USCIS are keenly aware of the situation and are discussing a solution that would help Ukrainian parolees maintain lawful status. USCIS wants to avoid loss of status by Ukrainian parolees. We hope that they will offer a solution by March 2023.
- All the available options right now (filing form I-131 with USCIS, going to CBP offices) were not originally created for this kind of situation and may not result in timely parole extension.
- A senior official at USCIS did confirm that Ukrainian parolees are not required to apply for re-parole at least 90 days before their parole expiration.
- Accordingly, it may make sense to wait for guidance on re-parole from USCIS before making any decision on what to do.
- Advocates nationwide are remaining in contact with USCIS and CBP and tracking success rates of available options.
- Humanitarian parole of Ukrainians admitted at the Mexican border expires in early 2023
- Consequences of expired parole
- The most current information from USCIS
- Requesting re-parole or extension of stay: existing procedures
- Other options for Ukrainians with expiring parole
Humanitarian parole of Ukrainians admitted at the Mexican border expires in early 2023
Most Ukrainians who came through the U.S.-Mexico border in March and April 2022 were granted one-year parole. Those of them who came on or before April 11, 2022 were also eligible to apply for TPS. As a result, those Ukrainians who came in on one-year parole and have not yet received TPS will be out of status when their parole expires.
Current options for extending parole are not applicable
Humanitarian parole has not historically been used so extensively, and immigration attorneys do not know if the instructions for extending parole currently found on the USCIS website are actionable or applicable to the current situation.
What we have done
Lawyers and volunteers from Ukraine Immigration Task Force, LINU, Svitlo, and Nova Ukraine have been speaking with senior officials at immigration agencies (including USCIS) and key resettlement organizations on this topic since early December 2022. While no solution is available yet, we want to keep you updated on the situation.
Consequences of expired parole
Remaining in the U.S. past one’s permitted period of stay can have negative consequences.
After a person’s parole expires, they have no lawful status in the United States unless they apply for and are granted a different status. This means that they will start to accrue unlawful presence for every day they remain in the U.S. Being in the U.S. unlawfully can be grounds for removal or deportation. While there is not currently a major risk of Ukrainians being deported to Ukraine, this could change in the future.
Accruing unlawful presence — as well as working without employment authorization — can also have negative consequences for future immigration goals. This could pose issues for Ukrainians who want to apply for permanent residence through family or employment-based immigration. It could also impact a person’s ability to return to the U.S. on a visitor, business, or student visa. It could even prevent them from being approved for re-entry through Uniting for Ukraine.
Ukrainians who accrue unlawful presence for more than 180 days consecutively and then depart may be barred from returning to the United States for three years. Ukrainians who accrue unlawful presence for more than one year and then depart may be barred from returning for ten years.
Loss of employment authorization and federal assistance
After a person’s parole expires, they will lose eligibility for federal benefits that come with their parole. For Ukrainians, this means they will no longer have employment authorization, cash benefits such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA), health insurance through Medicaid, and food assistance through Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). They could also lose eligibility for certain state benefits such as drivers licenses or state and local assistance programs, depending on the laws of that state or municipality.
The most current information from USCIS
We have met with senior officials at USCIS in charge of parole programs for Ukrainians. They told us that USCIS is keenly aware of the situation and the potential consequences for Ukrainians. USCIS, CBP, and DHS are considering a solution that would allow Ukrainian parolees to maintain lawful status. USCIS wants to avoid loss of status or benefits by Ukrainian parolees. While USCIS did not communicate the exact date or what a new procedure will look like, it is our hope that a designated process will be available prior to April 2023.
Please keep in mind that an extension of status or a new status cannot be granted automatically. You will still need to apply, and applications will be adjudicated on a case-by-case basis.
Requesting re-parole or extension of stay: existing procedures
While USCIS and CBP have re-parole and extension of stay mechanisms, as of now, there is no officially designated procedure for, or definitive guidance from federal agencies on, how Ukrainians should apply for re-parole or an extension of stay.
Re-parole via USCIS form I-131
Pros: The filing process is straightforward; this process has been used before by USCIS to re-parole people in other situations, albeit on a much smaller scale.
Cons: Current processing time is from 12-18 months; while there is a procedure to expedite requests in exceptional circumstances, we have not yet heard of anyone successfully requesting an expedite and receiving an approval of their re-parole request; filing fee is $575 per person unless you qualify for a fee waiver; if USCIS offers a new process in the near future, a filed I-131 may become obsolete.
If you decide to apply
- You should fill out and mail form I-131 with “Re-Parole” written on top, along with a copy of your passport, i-94, a letter explaining why you need re-parole, and a check or fee waiver request at the address:
- Attn: HP
- P.O. Box 660865
- Dallas, TX 75266-0865
- Instructions on how to file for re-parole can be found here (Re-Parole Section).
- While the re-parole procedure described on the USCIS website mentions form I-134 that should be submitted by a supporter, USCIS has indicated that re-parole decisions are discretionary and USCIS does not intend to put extra burdens on Ukrainians already in the U.S. This suggests that USCIS may approve re-parole applications for people who do not have supporters when it seems appropriate.
- The filing fee is $575, although low-income applicants can request a fee waiver by submitting with the re-parole request form I-912 and supporting proof of low income and/or receipt of welfare benefits.
- USCIS confirmed that applicants seeking re-parole are not required to apply at least 90 days before their parole expires.
- The processing time is currently estimated at 12 to 18 months. USCIS has a procedure to expedite applications for humanitarian reasons, but there is no guarantee that a request to expedite will be granted.
Extension of stay via CBP
CBP also has authority to extend parole granted on the border via an extension of the term of permitted stay on form I-94. However, many Ukrainian parolees have recently tried contacting CBP for parole extensions, and with the exception of a few cases, CBP’s general response was that Ukrainian parolees should look to USCIS for extension of their parole.
If you decide to apply
- Find your closest CBP office by visiting CBP’s website. You can email or call them and explain your request.
- It is also possible to schedule a meeting with the regional CBP office at the original port of entry or airport to request an extension, re-parole, or correction of an I-94.
Other options for Ukrainians with expiring parole
For Ukrainians with expiring parole, there are other potential protections that could apply:
Temporary Protected Status
Ukrainians who arrived in the US on or before April 11, 2022 are eligible to apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). If you are eligible, but have not applied, we strongly recommend you do as soon as possible. Eligible Ukrainians have until Oct. 19, 2023 to register for the current term, but those whose parole is expiring soon should file Form I-821 as soon as possible. You can find instructions how to apply on the Nova Ukraine website. You can also contact Lawyers for Good Government for free assistance with submitting a TPS application and the Ukraine Immigration Task Force for free assistance with submitting a TPS application.
For Ukrainians who arrived after April 11, 2022, the next decision date to determine whether Ukraine will be redesignated for TPS is expected to be August 20, 2023. Based on ongoing conditions, many people believe Ukraine will be redesignated for TPS. If Ukraine is redesignated for another term, eligible Ukrainians who are physically present in the U.S. as of the date of re-designation will also be able to apply. This will include Ukrainians who are in the U.S. with expired stays.
Uniting for Ukraine
Many Ukrainians who came through Mexico or on a tourist visa, have applied and been approved for the Uniting for Ukraine program. There is some risk associated with this method, since the program requires sponsored beneficiaries to be outside of the United States at the time of the application. Thus, Ukrainians who wish to apply for Uniting for Ukraine should leave the United States before the application process in order to be considered.
Beneficiaries must also meet the other program criteria, found here. Please be aware that U4U has more stringent requirements than those applied at the Mexican border. For example, you must have an adult in the family who is a citizen of Ukraine and the family must have resided in Ukraine right before the war.
Please see instructions on how to fill out the application on the Svitlo website.
Ukrainians who wish to apply for asylum should do so before the end of their first year in the United States https://www.uscis.gov/i-589. Ukrainian asylum claims are generally viable, but complex, so those considering applying for asylum should consult with an experienced asylum attorney. Please keep in mind that there is currently a record-number of asylum applications pending in U.S. immigration courts and with USCIS — almost 1.6 million applications — and the overall average wait time for an asylum hearing is over 4 years (almost 6 years in some courts).
Please see more details here
Family-based or employment immigration
Parolees who are eligible can apply to adjust their status through another channel, such as through family-based or employment immigration. This can take a considerable length of time and involve significant expense, but it could be an option for some who wish to remain in the United States permanently.
Please check here for more details
Depart the United States
Ukrainians whose parole is set to expire soon may voluntarily depart the United States before their lawful stay expires. This would prevent them from accruing unlawful presence and help ensure that they remain eligible for future immigration channels.