Ukrainians in the USA consider taking advantage new status

Iryna Volvach, a friend who traveled from Ukraine to California as part of a tour package, decided to stay for a few more months. 

Ukrainians in the USA consider taking advantage new status

She worried about her grandchildren and children back home when Russia invaded Ukraine.

Volvach, 62 years old, wept as she described her efforts to save her family to The Associated Press. The Biden administration announced humanitarian aid that could allow thousands of Ukrainians to remain in the U.S., without fear of being deported to their homeland.

Volvach said, "Thank you," in English on Thursday as she received the news from her Russian-speaking friend.

She said in Russian, "They are happy that I am here." They are not concerned about me. They are not worried about me.

Volvach's reaction mirrors the emotions that many Ukrainians living in the U.S. might feel about the decision by the U.S. to grant them the Temporary Protected status they sought after the Russian invasion. This is the largest European conventional military action since World War II. According to United Nations refugee agency, the invasion has created a humanitarian crisis that has forced more than 1.2million people to flee Ukraine.

After more than 177 organizations had signed a petition requesting relief, refugee advocates applauded this move.

The federal program allows Ukrainians to remain in the country up to 18 months. To be eligible, applicants must have arrived in the U.S. before Tuesday.

A dozen citizens from 12 countries have already arrived in the United States as part of the TPS program. This is for people fleeing ongoing conflict, environmental disasters or other extraordinary circumstances. These countries include Venezuela, Somalia, Yemen and Syria.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, approximately 75,100 Ukrainians will be eligible. These include approximately 4,000 people who have pending asylum claims, as well as many others who came legally to the U.S. illegally as tourists, business travelers, or students with expired visas.

PJ Moore, the executive director of World Relief's Memphis office, Tennessee said that the organization has assisted about 18,000 Ukrainians to settle in the U.S. over the past 18-years, most of whom are now in California and Washington.

Nika Rudenko, a Ukrainian national, has stated that she will consider applying for TPS in the United States if she takes leave from college, and she is unable to meet the requirements of her student visa.

Rudenko, a Harvard University sophomore aged 20, says that she has stopped attending classes since the invasion began last week. She is concerned about her family who remain in hiding in Kyiv, Ukraine. Rudenko stated that she is also trying to spread awareness on campus about the current situation.

Rudenko stated that his mental health isn't stable. It's difficult for him to work, and also to help the country. It's strange to see how everyone's lives go on. But my life has changed completely. It hurts to feel that people can't understand what you are going through.

Although Rudenko's pain may be lessened if he is granted protected status, Volodymyr Bobko appears to not be as lucky. Bobko, 31, stated that he had discussed the possibility of seeking TPS for his wife's mom, who arrived from Ukraine via Poland on Thursday, two days after Tuesday's cutoff.

Bobko is a Boxborough resident and a Green Card holder. He came from Ukraine in 2016. According to Bobko, his wife has a tourist visa. He booked a flight several months before the couple had their second child.

Bobko believes asking his mother in law to stay longer than she had planned would be a difficult request. He said that her husband and other relatives are still in Ukraine.

Bobko stated that she wants to return, perhaps in a few months. However, we are not yet able to predict what the situation will be in the next couple of months. She still believes she will live in Ukraine, even though it is beautiful and she has many friends and family there.

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