Justia Lawyer badge
AV Preeminent - Todd G. Cole
BBB badge
AVVO Top Attorney
Expertise - Divorce
Expertise - Employment
Client Champion 2023
AV Preeminent
Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association
Rated by Super Lawyers - Rising stars
Verified Lead Counsel

Ukrainian and Russian Refugees: Pathways to the U.S.

Cole Law Group, PC
Beautiful Landscape

On February 24, 2022, President Vladimir Putin instructed the Russian army to invade Ukraine. The President’s goal in implementing this abrupt and sudden invasion was to prevent Ukraine from joining the Western defensive alliance with NATO. Unfortunately, President Vladimir Putin’s crusade has now displaced more than five million refugees who have been forced to flee the bloodshed and violence by Russian forces.[i] This tragic act of war has caused not only Ukrainians, but a number of Russians as well, to leave their homelands and seek refuge in the United States.

There are various immigration pathways to the U.S. that these displaced refugees might employ in order to achieve legal immigration status:

  • Apply for specific visas with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS)
  • Apply for Temporary Protective Status (TPS)
  • Apply for asylum
  • Apply for refugee status overseas
  • Apply for a B-1/B-2 Visitor Visa

What is Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?

One option for Ukrainian refugees looking to flee their home country is to apply for Temporary Protective Status (TPS). This specific status is dependent on the Secretary of Homeland Security. They have the power to designate a foreign county with temporary protective status “due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately.”[ii] The Secretary will choose a country for TPS if the following temporary conditions are present: ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster or an epidemic, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.[iii] Temporary Protected Status allows Ukrainian citizens that have been physically present in the United States of America the opportunity to continue to stay in the United States for the duration of eighteen (18) months. They may also apply for work authorization due to temporary protected status and travel authorization.

Who is eligible for Asylum?

Additional options for both Ukrainian and Russian refuges looking to flee their home countries is to apply for asylum, refugee status overseas, or a B-1/B-2 Visitor Visa. In order to be eligible to apply for asylum, an individual must be present in the United States and seeking protection due to the fact that they have personally suffered persecution, or have a credible fear of being persecuted, based on their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, and political opinion.[iv] In order to obtain approval for an application for asylum, one must provide ample amounts of evidence of the suffered persecution or credible fear of it. The application for asylum must be submitted within one year of the applicant’s last entry into the United States, absent a qualified exception. One may even include their spouse and children in their application for asylum.

What is Refugee Status?

If a Ukrainian or Russian citizen looking to feel their home countries is still currently located in their home countries, then they are forced to apply to be recognized as a refugee. In order to be recognized a s a refugee, one must obtain “a referral to the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP)”.[v] Under the law of the United States, a “refugee” is defined as “a person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her home country because of a well-founded fear of persecution due to race, membership in a particular social group, political opinion, religion, or national origin.”[vi] This is very similar to the requirements for an application for asylum. One can also include their spouse and children in their refugee application.

How do I apply for legal status?

While the current state of Russia and the Ukraine is treacherous and hazardous, one should find comfort in knowing there are ways to leave the uncertainty and find safety in the United States. The immigration laws of the United States are complex and intricate. The assistance of an experienced immigration attorney is crucial to one’s success in applying for legal status. If you, or any family members or friends, are looking for assistance in obtaining legal status and live in the State of Tennessee, call Cole Law Group at 615-490-6020 in Brentwood, TN to schedule a consultation with one of our immigration attorneys.

[i]U.S. plans to receive 100,000 Ukrainians displaced by Russian invasion, CBS News (March 24, 2022), available at  https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ukraine-refugees-us-100000-russia-invasion/.

[ii]Temporary Protected Status, USCIS (March 16, 2022), available at https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/temporary-protected-status.

[iii] Id.

[iv] Asylum, USCIS (March 3, 2022), available at https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/refugees-and-asylum/asylum.

[v] Refugees, USCIS (March 2, 2022), available at https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/refugees-and-asylum/refugees

[vi] U.S. Visas for Ukrainians and Russians: Navigating the Maze, The National Law Review (March 11, 2022), available at https://www.natlawreview.com/article/us-visas-ukrainians-and-russians-navigating-maze.

Client Reviews

"Cole Law Group has been nothing short of spectacular for myself and family. Their knowledge and experience is a solid and valuable asset to have at one's disposal in today's world."


"Communicative, collaborative, and professional to the core!"


"A beacon of hope when my choices were limited (...). Not only were they able to look out for my best interest, but their calm and empathetic demeanor offered me both amazing legal advice and emotional support. I am eternally grateful for their service, and I wholeheartedly recommend Cole Law Group...


"Now, as professionals, just astounding. There was such a calmness and a genuine strength that they exhibit because they simply know the law. It was amazing to see the back and forth of their work and never once be wavering or scrambling. There was not one time this entire process where I knew I...


"This group can get anything you need done! They can do just about any kind of court issues! When you hire these guys you will walk away feeling confident that they will get things done for you!"


Excellent team, responsible, honest, accessible and above all human.


Contact Us

  • White Bullet List Video Conferencing Available
  • White Bullet List Responsive Client Service
  • White Bullet List Fluent in Spanish
Fill out the contact form or call us at (615) 490-6020 to schedule your consultation.

Leave Us a Message