WASHINGTON (AA) – The US announced Thursday that it is extending special immigration protections to Ukrainians as Russia continues its war against its eastern European neighbor.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said what is known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS) would be extended to Ukrainians for 18 months because of the ongoing conflict and “temporary conditions” that prevent Ukrainians from returning home safely.
TPS prevents an individual from being deported from the US and enables them to apply for work permits. The program was designed to provide protections to individuals whose home countries are afflicted by war, natural disasters and other “extraordinary and temporary conditions.”
All Ukrainians who have resided in the US prior to March 1 are eligible for the program. Individuals who attempt to travel to the US after that date will be ineligible.
CBS News separately reported that the US has suspended deportation flights to Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania and Slovakia due to the war.
Russia’s war on Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24, has been met with international outrage, with the European Union, US and UK among others implementing tough financial sanctions on Moscow.
According to UN figures, 227 civilians have been killed and 525 injured in Ukraine since the start of the war. Ukrainian authorities, however, put the death toll at over 2,000.
More than 1 million people have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries, according to the UN Refugee Agency.