The decision allows Ukrainians living in the US to continue to access services and allays concerns about legal uncertainty.
US President Joe Biden’s administration will extend the one-year permission granted to thousands of Ukrainians living in the country, allowing them to renew their humanitarian status and stay longer just as their paperwork was due to run off.
The news comes shortly after the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which displaced millions of refugees.
The Department of Homeland Security said on Monday that about 25,000 Ukrainians who entered the US through the southern border with Mexico could extend their stay beyond the year they were initially given.
“For this earliest-arrived group of Ukrainians, the continued legal right to live, work and access resettlement assistance in the U.S. is absolutely critical to their well-being,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, head of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. . rack.
More than 118,000 Ukrainians have come to the US through a program known as humanitarian parole, which allows people fleeing desperate circumstances to enter the US, where they can sign up for more permanent immigration routes that are not at risk.
Those authorizations are valid for two years, but about 25,000 people entering the U.S. through Mexico in 2022 were only issued one-year permits.
The extension allows them to continue to access services such as health care and food aid, and eases concerns about their legal status in the country.
In recent years, humanitarian parole has been used to bring groups of people from countries such as Ukraine and Afghanistan to the US.
However, many Afghans who were paroled in the US following the collapse of the US-backed government in Afghanistan in August 2021 have yet to see their permissions renewed. Some are concerned that they could end up in a state of legal limbo and lose their work permits if a solution is not found before they reach their two-year anniversary in the US.
Advocacy groups have been urging Congress to pass a bill known as the Afghan Adjustment Act that would provide Afghan parolees a pathway to permanent status, but the bill failed to pass.
“Thousands of Afghans evacuated to the United States last summer endured the traumatic journey of having to flee their homeland,” the US-based advocacy organization Afghans For A Better Tomorrow said in a press release (pdf) last August. “They should not be forced to individually relive that trauma through cumbersome legal processes.”
Some have accused the US government of a racist double standard in its management of the humanitarian parole system.
Human rights groups have criticized the Biden administration for processing Afghan applications for humanitarian parole at a slow pace and largely rejecting the applications processed.
As the Russian war in Ukraine continues, a United Nations poll found that about 65 percent of Ukrainian refugees who fled the invasion intend to remain in their host countries until hostilities subside.
This often means hardship, with many struggling to adjust to life in new countries after emotionally grueling journeys to safety.
After the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, nearly 8 million Ukrainian refugees have left the country, according to the UN Refugee Agency. Millions more are displaced within Ukraine itself.