With the developing situation in Ukraine, we offer the latest information with respect to visa options and immigration alternatives for Ukrainian nationals to consider. For an in-depth discussion and evaluation of the best visa option for you, we encourage you to contact our office for a consultation.
At the outset, we would like to clarify that U.S. immigration law can best be explained as being divided into 3 broad categories: temporary nonimmigrant visa options, permanent immigrant visa options, and special immigrant visa types.
The Department of State recently provided the following guidance to further explain the difference between these visa types. We will be dedicating a future post to the possible visa alternatives that can be explored by Ukrainians. Please review our recent blog post here for information about Temporary Protected Status for Ukrainians that have been continuously present in the United States since Tuesday March 1, 2022.
Nonimmigrant visas are for temporary stays in the United States. They are not the appropriate tool to begin an immigrant, refugee, or resettlement process. If you apply for a nonimmigrant visa but are unable to demonstrate intent to leave the United States after a defined period in order to return to a residence abroad, a consular officer will refuse your application.
All B1/B2 visa applicants are assumed to be intending immigrants—and therefore ineligible for a nonimmigrant visa—unless they can establish otherwise. Nonimmigrant visa applicants may apply at any embassy or consulate where they are physically present and where appointments are available. A full list of embassies and consulates is available here: https://www.usembassy.gov/. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, applicants may face extended visa interview wait times at some Embassies and Consulates. Appointment wait times are available at U.S. Visas (state.gov). Once an interview appointment is made, applicants will have the ability to request an expedited appointment but must describe the unique circumstances that justify such a request.
Immigrant visas are for foreign nationals who intend to live and/or work permanently in the United States. In most cases, a relative or employer sponsors the individual by filing a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Further information on immigrant visas can be found here: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/immigrate.html.
At which Consular Post, can I apply for an Immigrant Visa?
Newly Scheduled Immigrant Visa Appointments: The U.S. Consulate General Frankfurt, Germany, is the designated processing post for all Ukrainian immigrant visa applications except adoption cases. All newly scheduled immigrant visa cases will be slated for appointments at the U.S. Consulate General in Frankfurt, Germany. Adoption cases are being handled at U.S. Embassy Warsaw, Poland.
I have a pending I-130 with USCIS, can I ask for faster processing?
Requesting Expedited Processing of I-130 Petitions: If you filed a Form I-130 petition with USCIS and it has not yet been approved, you may inquire with USCIS regarding expedition of the application. USCIS has clear criteria outlined on its webpage listing the requirements to apply for an expedite. You may wish to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney to determine if you qualify for an expedite request: https://www.uscis.gov/forms/filing-guidance/how-to-make-an-expedite-request.
There is also a USCIS help line if you are an active U.S. military member: https://www.uscis.gov/military/military-help-line.
Can I file my I-130 application at a US Embassy or Consular post overseas?
Local File Option for Certain I-130 Petitions U.S. Citizen Petitioners: If you are a U.S. citizen who is physically present overseas with your immediate family members and have not yet filed an immigrant visa petition with USCIS, you may request to locally file an I-130 immigrant visa petition at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate that processes immigrant visas.
This applies only to U.S. citizens physically present in that consular district filing petitions for their spouses, unmarried children under 21, and parents who have fled Ukraine. Please email your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate’s Immigrant Visa Unit if you believe you may qualify to locally file an I-130 petition. You can find those email addresses at each individual embassy or consulates’ website.
Can I request expedited Immigrant Visa processing from the National Visa Center?
Requesting Expedited Immigrant Visa Processing from National Visa Center (NVC): If you have already received approval of your I-130 petition from USCIS, but have not yet been scheduled for an appointment in Frankfurt, NVC may be able to expedite processing of your case. For more information on NVC case processing, please visit: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/immigrate/national-visa-center/immigrant-visas-processing-general-faqs.html. Please be aware that expedited case processing does not apply to family preference visa categories where a case is not current.
It is recommended for you to seek guidance from an experienced attorney to discuss the NVC expedite process. Please note that your case must be documentarily qualified meaning that all necessary documents and filing fees have been received by the NVC. In addition, your priority date must be current.
My case was at the Embassy in Kyiv, how can I transfer it to another post?
Transferring Immigrant Visa Cases from Embassy Kyiv: If you had an immigrant visa case pending with U.S. Embassy Kyiv that was not an adoption case, it has been transferred to Frankfurt, Germany. Adoption cases have been transferred to Warsaw, Poland. If you would like to transfer processing of an immigration case to another U.S. embassy or consulate, please contact the receiving U.S embassy or consulate’s Immigrant Visa Unit in that country to request a case transfer. The Embassy will have a list of requirements which must be satisfied in order to begin the transfer process.
Transferring Immigrant Visa Cases from NVC: Immigrant visa applicants who have received an NVC case number and have supplied all supporting information to become “documentarily qualified” will receive notice of their Frankfurt appointment in the coming months (see also NVC expedite paragraph above). Those who are not yet scheduled for an interview appointment and would like to transfer their case somewhere other than Frankfurt should follow the directions here: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/immigrate/national-visa-center/nvc-contact-information.html
What guidance is available for adoption cases?
The Department is actively working with Adoption Service Providers (ASPs) to provide guidance and answer questions during this critical time. Please see more information at Information for U.S. Citizens In the Process of Adopting in Ukraine. This resource addresses adoptions and intended adoptions at various stages of the process and provides guidance on whom to consult and clarifications on the Department’s potential role and ability to assist. Prospective adoptive parents should consult their ASP about how the crisis in Ukraine may impact their adoption plans. Families who previously hosted a child but are not yet approved to adopt may wish to consult the hosting organization to learn what efforts are being made on behalf of the host child.
What are the COVID-19 U.S. Entry Requirements for Ukrainians?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has exercised its enforcement discretion to allow certain persons from Ukraine to travel to the United States without a pre-departure COVID-19 test until April 1, 2022. For more information, please refer to the CDC website at: https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/fr-proof-negative-test.html.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has amended the national interest exception from Presidential Proclamation 10294, which allows certain Ukrainian travelers to the United States to enter without showing proof of COVID-19 requirements. For more information, please refer to the DHS website at: https://www.dhs.gov/publication/national-interest-exception-presidential-proclamation-10294.
Can I request humanitarian parole?
Parole is a program run by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that allows an individual, who may be inadmissible or otherwise ineligible for admission into the United States, to be in the United States for a temporary period for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.
It is not meant to replace a visa process. Anyone can file an application for humanitarian parole. Further information and instructions are available here: https://www.uscis.gov/forms/explore-my-options/humanitarian-parole. Those who wish to apply for humanitarian parole should contact USCIS directly.
Can I request refugee status?
Almost all refugee cases in countries abroad are processed by local authorities or the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Ukrainians should not attempt to apply for visas in order to travel to the United States as refugees. Instead, they should contact local authorities or UNHCR for refugee processing. Additional information is available from UNHCR: https://help.unhcr.org, including information about non-governmental organizations that may be able to provide additional assistance. Additionally, USAID’s website has information for Ukrainian refugees: https://www.usaid.gov/usaid-response-ukraine/resources-refugees-asylum-seekers
The International Organization for Migration (IOM)’s Resettlement Support Center (RSC) Eurasia is continuing limited operations from Kyiv and from the sub-office in Chisinau, Moldova. At present, RSC Eurasia is not conducting any in-person activities, nor scheduling any departures, from Kyiv. We encourage applicants who are in harm’s way to find safety and shelter wherever possible. The sub-office in Chisinau can arrange departures for approved Ukrainian Lautenberg applicants who have completed all U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) processing requirements and are physically outside of Ukraine.
If you had an active USRAP case with RSC Eurasia, your case remains active and case processing is continuing, to the extent possible. The current security situation in Ukraine will not have an impact on your USCIS decision or overall case processing. However, we anticipate that some resettlement processing activities may be delayed. We cannot indicate a timeline at this time. Applicants that were being processed in Ukraine and have changed location and/or departed the country should write to RSC Eurasia and inform the RSC of their new location and contact information.
Where can I find information about local resources?
Our European partners offer many resources for people displaced by the war in Ukraine. We encourage Ukrainians to consult local government authorities in their current location to determine what might be available as you consider resettlement options.
The Law Offices of Jacob Sapochnick will continue to monitor these new developments and will report on any new updates right here on our blog.
Where Can I Contact You? If you would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-483-4549 or call 619-819-9204.
- Information for Nationals of Ukraine
- Secretary Mayorkas Designates Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status for 18 Months
- USCIS Ukraine TPS Announcement
- USCIS TPS Webpage
- Processing Posts for Visa Applicants in Ukraine
- USCIS Reaches Fiscal Year 2022 H-1B Cap
- USCIS Initial Registration Announcement
- H-1B Electronic Registration Step-by-Step Instructions
- All About the H-1B Visa
- Youtube channel
- ImmigrationU Membership
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