As the world watches Russia’s invasion of Ukraine unfold, the Department of Homeland Security has announced temporary protected status for Ukraine citizens currently in the U.S. This type of designation is typically only given in the event of either an environmental disaster, armed conflict, or temporary and extraordinary conditions. For this reason, not all employers are familiar with how to incorporate this TPS into hiring practices.
While a somewhat unique situation, employers are still expected to follow the letter of the law when it comes to hiring to keep their companies compliant with federal mandates. This is difficult for many human resource departments and managers to keep up with on top of their regular workload. This has prompted many companies to enlist the help of valuable resources such as digital I-9 compliance software for timely assistance.
What Temporary Protected Status for Ukraine Citizens Currently in the U.S. Means for Employers
It is important to note that the key word in the Department of Homeland Security’s March 3, 2022 announcement is that a temporary protected status (TPS) will be awarded for eighteen months for Ukraine citizens currently in the U.S. This means that eligible individuals should have continuously lived in the U.S since March 1, 2022 and be able to prove it. At the time of print, Ukraine citizens attempting to travel here after this date will not be awarded TPS.
The eighteen-month designation is set to go into effect via the applicable publication date of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Federal Register. The notice will in turn provide instructions for how to apply for TPS and an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
Employers should note that all temporary protected status applicants must meet all eligibility requirements as well as submit to background and security checks.
What the Temporary Protected Status for Ukraine Citizens Currently in the U.S. Means
An entire country may receive TPS designation on the basis of both armed conflict and the temporary yet extraordinary conditions there. It is conditions like these that are keeping Ukraine nationals and others from returning to the Ukraine safely. The battle has raged for weeks with no apparent relief in sight, and many in the Ukraine no longer have access to water, electricity, food, shelter, or medical services. This has prompted an estimated 3 million people to flee Ukraine.
Essentially the announcement means that Ukrainian nationals or individuals who have no nationality who last habitually resided in Ukraine and that currently live in the United States should file an application for TPS. This could protect tens of thousands of Ukrainians already in the U.S. on a business visa or as a tourist or temporary student.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has put out additional information on their website as of March 4, 2022 to detail immigrations services they offer to those impacted by special situations, such as the invasion of Ukraine, which can include but is not limited to:
- Accelerated adjudication of petitions or applications such as EADs, as appropriate
- Consideration of fee waiver requests if there is an inability to pay
- Expedited adjudication of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students suffering from intense economic hardship
- Expedited replacement of damaged or lost travel or immigration documents issued by USCIS (Green Card, EAD, Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, etc.)
- Flexibility for individuals receiving a Request for Evidence or a Notice of Intent to Deny that were unable to provide such evidence in a timely manner
- Flexibility for those unable to appear for a scheduled USCIS interview
- Modifying a nonimmigrant status or extending a nonimmigrant stay for a person already in the U.S. (failure to file applications for changes or extensions before expiration of the designated authorized period of admission may possibly be excused)
How Digital I-9 Compliance Software Can Help Employers Navigate These Temporary Changes
Companies in the United States are mandated by law to comply with approved federal hiring practices. This includes changes that can occur such as awarding TPS status to Ukrainian nationals. While the change may be something new for employers to navigate, they are expected to do so without it affecting their I-9 compliance.
Instead of trying to make sense of temporary changes to laws regarding employee authorization documents on their own, many employers are turning to the invaluable resource of digital I-9 compliance software. This tool is designed to coach employers on filling out the Form I-9 correctly, while also preventing the occurrence of common mistakes that could negatively impact compliance.
Created by professionals who have an intimate understanding of the strict compliance laws that employers are facing today, the software can even walk employers through Form I-9 processes for Ukraine nationals and others who are affected by the March 2022 Department of Homeland Security announcement.
As an added bonus, most reputable digital I-9 software also has the capacity to:
- Help confirm acceptable documents for identification and work authorization
- Alert users of upcoming deadlines while creating an audit trail
- Integrate with E-Verify and an employer’s onboarding and payroll systems
- Guide employers on correct practices for document retention and accessibility
The temporary protected status for Ukraine citizens currently in the U.S. for eighteen months will affect many employers. To ensure that employees’ papers and documents are handled correctly and in compliance with federal law, consider enlisting the help of digital I-9 software created by immigration professionals who understand how to help you successfully navigate the process.
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