How Ukrainians can get protection in the UK, USA, Canada: legal advice

How Ukrainians can get protection in the UK, USA, Canada: legal advice

Due to the Russian war against Ukraine, millions of people have been forced to flee their homes in search of safety. Many countries have significantly simplified entry conditions and provide temporary protection for citizens and residents of Ukraine. Most people chose to wait for the war in neighboring European countries, but some compatriots went to more distant Britain, the United States, and Canada. It has become much easier to enter these countries now, but the procedures for obtaining protection for Ukrainians are organized differently than in Europe.

In this article, Trustme Law Firm lawyer Roman Tkan helps understand the features and procedures for obtaining protection in the UK, USA, and Canada.

Great Britain

Two programs in the UK allow Ukrainian citizens and residents to stay legally.

This scheme allows applicants to join family members or continue their stay in the UK.

To participate in the program, you must:

  1. Apply to join or accompany a family member living in the UK.
  2. Be a Ukrainian or the closest family member of a citizen of Ukraine who applies for the program. A family member can be a spouse or civil partner, an unmarried partner (living together for at least two years), a child under 18, a parent (if the child is under 18), or a bride/groom.
  3. Live in Ukraine as of January 1, 2022, or before (including those who have now left Ukraine).

Applicants who have already arrived in the UK and meet the above requirements may also apply. A citizen of Ukraine who had a residence permit in the UK until March 18, 2022, will be able to apply for an extension of stay in the country from May 3, 2022. A person who previously had a residence permit in the United Kingdom but expired on 1 January 2022 will also be eligible to apply.

A member of the family to which the displaced person comes may be a British citizen; a person who has an indefinite residence permit in the United Kingdom; a person from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland who has previous residence status and started living in the UK before 1 January 2021; a person with refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK. You cannot apply for a family visa if a family member is temporarily in the country on a work or student visa.

The program allows sponsors, such as communities, individuals, or local authorities, to transport those forced to leave Ukraine to the UK. Sponsors may reside in any region of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) and have any nationality, provided they have a temporary residence permit in the United Kingdom for at least six months. The sponsor can be an acquaintance or friend who lives in the UK. If there are no acquaintances in the country, charities, religious groups, and public organizations help to establish contacts between people.

Terms of participation in the program:

  1. The person must be a Ukrainian or the closest family member of a citizen of Ukraine who lived in Ukraine as of January 1, 2022, or before (including those who have now left Ukraine).
  2. It is now outside the UK.
  3. Has a UK sponsor who meets the requirements of the program.
  • General conditions for obtaining a permit and entry.

Immigrants who have a valid passport apply for permission to enter online. Those who do not have a valid passport to travel abroad should visit the visa center and provide their biometric data.

The applicant must download a copy of the page with a photo of his valid or expired Ukrainian passport. If an application with an expired passport is submitted, the person must download a copy of the page with the official stamp of renewal of the passport issued by the Government of Ukraine.

You must provide documents proving your relationship with a family member living in the UK. The applicant for the sponsorship program must provide documents proving the sponsor’s identity, who is located in the UK. Such documents may be copies of passport, driver’s or national identity card, or biometric residence permit. You should also provide a document confirming the fact of residence in Ukraine as of January 1, 2022, or immediately before (for example, the utility bill).

You can apply for both programs for free. The medical immigration fee or the biometric registration fee for the above programs are not paid.
Once the application has been processed, the person receives an official letter of authorization from the UK’s Visa and Immigration Office confirming the right to travel to the United Kingdom. The letter of permission allows the settler to board a plane or other means of transport to the country.

Upon arrival in the country, you must show a letter of permission to the border guards, who will confirm entry by affixing a stamp to the passport for six months. The 6-month entry stamp is proof of the right to work, study and receive benefits in the UK.

Displaced persons are entitled to stay in the United Kingdom for six months. During these six months, you must submit your biometric data to extend your stay for up to three years and obtain a biometric residence permit as proof of immigration status.

United States

On March 3, 2022, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced the granting of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Ukrainian citizens. This status is granted to persons who are unable to return to their country due to danger and were in the United States as of April 11, 2022.

The person applying for this status must meet the following requirements:

  1. Be a citizen of Ukraine or a stateless person who has lived in Ukraine for a long time before arriving in the United States;
  2. The person has lived only in the United States since April 11, 2022;
  3. The person has not left the United States since April 19, 2022

The registration period for persons eligible to apply for TPS begins on 19 April 2022 and will run until 19 October 2023.

To obtain temporary protection status for individuals from Ukraine, you must complete a special form, an application for temporary protection status, and submit it online to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The applicant must provide proof of identity, nationality, and date of entry. You also need to pay a fee if a person applies for temporary protection status for the first time. However, it is possible to apply for an exemption from paying the fee if the applicant is unable to pay it.

The displaced person has the right to apply for a work permit or employment permit at the same time as applying for temporary protection status for persons from Ukraine. You can also apply for a work permit after applying for status. Simultaneous completion of both forms significantly speeds up obtaining a work permit.

If the applicant does not meet the requirements for re-registration for temporary protection status for persons from Ukraine, he will have the immigration status he had before obtaining temporary protection status. If a person did not have legal immigration status before applying for temporary protection status, he or she may become an illegal migrant. In this case, you need to apply for another form of immigration status.

It should be noted that a displaced person may have temporary protection status and another immigration status at the same time. It is allowed to apply for asylum, green card status, or another protective status if the applicant meets the requirements of the relevant applications.

Another way to seek refuge in the United States is through humanitarian parole. This allows a foreigner who is not allowed to enter the United States to enter temporarily due to an emergency.

To start, you need to arrive in Mexico and come to any checkpoint on the US-Mexico border. To become a participant in the procedure of passing the humanitarian corridor, a person or a representative must submit a special form and application. It is necessary to tell the authorized person at the checkpoint his fear of returning to Ukraine because of the war. He is then sent for an interview to verify the applicant’s testimony. The authority also requires evidence that the person will have sufficient funds to properly support themselves during their stay in the United States. The money can belong to the person entering the country or to a third-party sponsor.

Approval of a border crossing request usually takes 60 to 120 days after all documents have been submitted. Processing of documents can be accelerated if there is an urgent, life-threatening situation or another emergency. The residence permit is issued for no more than one-year maximum. Crossing the border in this way does not provide privileges for work, the displaced person may separately apply for a work permit.

  • Immigrant visa.

Immigrant visas are for foreign nationals who intend to live and/or work permanently in the United States. In most cases, a relative or employer sponsors a person by submitting a petition to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The US Consulate General in Frankfurt is the designated point for processing all applications for Ukrainian immigration visas, except in cases of adoption.


In Canada, emergency travel permits are issued to citizens and residents of Ukraine to support victims of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. They are available to all unrestricted people coming to Canada.

Under this program, several standard requirements for obtaining a regular guest visa or work permit have been abolished. Applicants abroad must apply online for a visitor’s visa to Canada and provide their biometric data (fingerprints and photos). Along with the visa application, applicants are encouraged to apply for a 3-year open work permit. This permit entitles you to work in Canada. Temporary residents can apply for renewal of their tourist status, and those who have received a job offer will be able to stay in Canada and start working. At the same time, they wait for their work permit application to be processed. Applications of Ukrainians are considered a matter of priority.

Elementary and high school students can register for and start attending school when they arrive in Canada. Anyone wishing to pursue an after-school education can apply for a permit as soon as they are in the country.

Applicants without a valid passport can still apply. The Department of Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship of Canada will issue a document entitling you to a one-time trip, depending on individual circumstances, depending on the situation. The Ministry mentioned above cancels all fees for applying for a work or study permit and its extension.

Ukrainians and their families are exempt from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement for entry into Canada. However, they must comply with quarantine and testing requirements.

Temporary residents will be able to apply for permanent residence under various programs if they decide to stay in Canada after their temporary stay.

The country also has a sponsorship program under which Canadian citizens or persons who have the right of permanent residence in the country can sponsor their relatives from Ukraine. A person who has reached the age of 18 has the right to be a sponsor. This person may be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or a person registered in Canada as an Indian under the Canadian Indian Act. A sponsored family member is a citizen of Ukraine outside of Canada (spouse, civil or spouse, dependent child (including adopted)). The sponsor is obliged to financially support relatives and ensure that they do not need social assistance from the states.

There are two stages for the implementation of the program:

  1. A person who is ready to act as a sponsor applies for sponsorship of his relatives.
  2. Family members must apply for permanent residence.

When applying, you must provide proof of income, written consent to support your relatives for a certain period, and indicate all children dependent on your relative (if any) before your relative’s application. All information in the application must be accurate. Data about family members, marital status, and any changes (if any) should also be provided. Applications from the sponsor and relatives must be sent simultaneously via electronic means and are considered a matter of priority.

In most cases, a fee must be paid, which includes processing applications, a fee for granting the right of permanent residence, and a fee for biometric data.

Relatives who come to Canada in this way have the right to live, work, and study in the country. The Government of Canada plans to organize other events to sponsor family members from Ukraine.


As of April 11, 4.6 million people had left Ukraine due to the war. Since the beginning of hostilities, the total number of people arriving in the United Kingdom is 12 thousand (as of April 5). The number of visas issued for entry under both programs is 40,900 (April 7).

The United States can accept up to 100,000 Ukrainians. This is not much compared to Poland, which has already accepted more than 2 million migrants. The small number of IDPs accepted in English-speaking countries is due to geographical remoteness, special individual entry rules, and permitting procedures.

As a general rule, in these countries, the right to reside is granted for a maximum of three years with the opportunity to work, study, receive medical care and enjoy other social guarantees. The most favorable conditions for temporary protection in Canada – you can start working, even if you apply for a work permit in the process of processing.

The material is prepared for AIN

Link to the article

Author of the material:

Roman Tkan, lawyer at Trustme Law Firm