On February 24th of last year, the Russian Federation began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. This would turn out to be the largest waged war on a European state since World War II. An unprecedented humanitarian crisis followed, and by April of 2022, more than 2 million refugees had fled the country of Ukraine. Many sought protection in the neighboring countries of Poland, Czech Republic, or Romania. Then, beginning in late March and early April, many refugees began arriving at the Tijuana airport in Mexico, to seek humanitarian parole at the U.S.-Mexico border. Within the first three weeks, over 3,000 refugees were processed through. Those who were granted entry, were given a one-year grant of Humanitarian Parole.
Upon receiving word of the massive influx of Ukrainians at the US-Mexico border, our own attorney, Kristofer Baughman, traveled to the border in early April 2022 in order to help Ukrainians in need.
Over the weekend of April 1, 2022 the Mexican government granted volunteers and Ukrainian refugees access to a sports complex and gymnasium, to serve as a refugee camp. This was the camp on the morning of April 4.
Ukrainians first arrived in Mexico at the Tijuana airport, where volunteers set up a welcome area and a make-shift “processing” station. There they would begin the registration process of entering by way of Humanitarian Parole. The volunteers created a system that coordinated with Customs and Border Patrol. Once their registration was completed, each refugee was given a number, to indicate their “place” in line. The wait time during the week of April 4 was 2-3 days. After successful registration and obtaining a number, each refugee was transported to the sports complex.
Beginning on April 21, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security announced a new streamlined process, called Uniting for Ukraine (U4U), to provide Ukrainian citizens with the ability to come to the United States. The new process launched on April 25, 2022. Since then, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) instructed Ukrainians not travel to the United States, directly through a port of entry, without the necessary documentation. Any Ukrainian present at the border, starting April 25, 2022, without a valid visa or without pre-authorization to travel to the U.S. will be denied entry. Unlike those who arrived at a port of entry at the end of March, and beginning of April, those who sought Humanitarian parole through the U4U program, are given a two-year grant of parole.
In April of 2022, it was difficult to foresee how long the war would last, and in February of 2023, the war entered into its second year. With increased hostilities and violence it became clear that the war would not be ending any time soon. Many Ukrainians who were granted a one-year grant of Humanitarian Parole ran into an issue: will their one year grant be extended? what is the process for extending parole? Fortunately, on March 13, 2023, DHS concluded that due to the ongoing hostilities, there still exists urgent humanitarian reasons to extend parole to certain individuals who arrived prior to the implementation of the U4U program. DHS will determine, on a case-by-case basis, who is eligible for an extension of the parole period and employment authorization (specifically, those who arrived in the United States between February 24, 2022 and April 25, 2022). DHS is currently in the process of considering these individuals for a one-year extension in order to align with the two-year parole period provided under Uniting for Ukraine, and it is estimated it will take DHS approximately four weeks, and is reviewing cases based on the date of parole.
Please visit the Department of Homeland Security website for more information, here: https://www.dhs.gov/ukraine?fbclid=IwAR3t17z94bQUKmCeTj4y5KX-LSTiEwjMFVpfcppbc895AOaRfMvkxdLWXD8
This information is intended for educational purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice. By reading this, you agree that this information is not a substitute for legal counsel and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Please consult a qualified attorney to discuss your own situation and to obtain assistance with specific matters.