Ukrainian woman travels with law group to help Ukrainians get protective status
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - For Yuliya Jordan, the war in Ukraine hits right at home.
“I take it very personal,” Jordan said. “I still have an apartment in Ukraine.”
Jordan moved to Alaska from Ukraine 15 years ago. However, many of her friends and family still live in Ukraine.
“It’s my country. I still have friends and family there and ... it’s kind of painful to see what’s happening,” Jordan said, her voice cracking with emotion.
In her attempts to help other Ukrainians in Alaska, Jordan is volunteering as an interpreter for the Alaska Immigration Law Center. As a volunteer, she has helped translate letters and emails, and will also be joining the staff at the law center on a trip to two Alaska communities — Kodiak and Akutan — to help assist Ukrainian employees at Trident Seafood who are currently working under an H-2B visa. She will be helping them apply for Temporary Protective Status, which is reserved for nonresidents in the U.S. that live in a country that is in conflict.
“Help them with to fill out the forms to make sure that all forms filled out correctly and signed,” Jordan said.
Under an H-2B visa, foreign workers are allowed to come to the US for up to nine months and work in a seasonal industry that needs employees.
This year, however, many Ukrainians may not be able to go home after their visa expires due to the conflict.
“Presently, if the (protected) status was not available to the H-2B workers, their H-2B visa would expire and they would be returning to their home countries. Of course, that would not be feasible now,” William Brattain, the owner of Alaska Immigration Law Center, said.
The protective status would allow workers to stay in the U.S. for up to 18 months, but the application and immigration law is more complicated than it seems, Brattain said.
“Just because your friend got a visa, got some sort of status, and you think, ‘Well, I’m just like my friend,’ that may not be the case,” he said.
Brattain said it comes down to the facts and the specific details behind each case.
“For example, if you were in the United States on March 1 of 2022, you’d be eligible for TPS if you were Ukrainian,” Brattain said. “If you were to leave the country and go to Canada, for whatever reason, before your TPS status was granted, you would lose it.”
Officials say those choosing to apply for Temporary Protective Status must consult professionals and review their case with them. Currently, applications for protective status have not opened. According to Brattain, President Biden’s declaration needs to be published in the Federal Reserve before an application opening.
Brattain said he wants to make sure that Ukrainians who are currently in Alaska are first in line to submit their application when the protective status application is made available. He expects it to open by either the end of April or in May.
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