Ukrainian Refugees Seeking Asylum in New York

This video features Cory Forman, an Immigration Law attorney based in New York.

NYC Immigration Attorney Explains the Different Paths Available

Video Transcript:

Cory Forman: 

There's just many different ways and different paths, and it's very specific to the individual and their circumstances.

Molly Hendrickson: 

Since the war began in Ukraine, an estimated four million people have fled the country. Will some of them be coming to the United States? We're gonna talk to Immigration Attorney Cory Forman on this episode of Ask The Lawyer. I wanna remind you that if you wanna ask Cory questions about your situation, it's easy. Go to askthelawyers.com, click the button up top that says "Ask a Lawyer" or you could always call the phone number you'll see at the top of the screen. Cory, thanks for joining us today.

Cory Forman: 

Thanks so much Molly. Appreciate the opportunity.

Molly Hendrickson: 

We know that the United States is planning to accept refugees, how many do you think will be coming to New York City?

Cory Forman: 

Well, New York City, I can't say. That really depends on a variety of factors: Family members, connections to the city. I know that the Biden Administration has recently announced that they will accept 100,000 refugees in the Ukrainian conflict. Many of the European nations are accepting far more. And in the recent policy announced by President Biden, he announced that the US will accept 100,000.

Molly Hendrickson: 

It's such a tough situation to watch unfold. I know a lot of us wanna help. What should a person do if they or their family member is trying to come to the United States from Ukraine? And can a person sponsor a Ukrainian refugee?

Cory Forman: 

Well, when they talk about the US accepting refugees, there's a little confusion there. There is two ways that someone could apply for asylum. One is the refugee program, which you go through the United Nations, and one is the US asylum system for people that are already here. Beyond that, people can apply for humanitarian parole, where you'll need a financial sponsor. There is TPS, Temporary Protected Status, which was announced that Ukraine would be designated as a country for TPS, for those Ukrainians that are living in the United States. But beyond that, if someone already has a tourist Visa from the Ukraine, they could use that to come and visit. If there is a family member that could sponsor them for a Green Card, even better. But there's just many different ways and different paths, and it's very specific to the individual and their circumstances. Unfortunately, there's not some mass program for Ukranian refugees only to come to apply and come to the US.

Molly Hendrickson: 

You touched on humanitarian parole. Can you explain a little bit about what that is and how does that apply to people entering the country?

Cory Forman: 

Sure. If someone is out of the country and they need to come to the United States for an emergency situation, or if a catastrophe has happened, in this case, obviously what's happening in the Ukraine is a catastrophe, they can apply for humanitarian parole. It is a temporary sort of admission into the United States where it's gotta be granted state side by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, there does have to be a financial sponsor to show that the person is going to be able to remain here and meet expenses here. And it's typically granted for a year, up to two years. And again, it doesn't give any permanent status, it doesn't give in and of itself any indefinite right to stay and work in the United States. But the idea that you're able to travel and be paroled in for this humanitarian reason could ultimately lead to other benefits.

Molly Hendrickson: 

Can you talk a little bit about how a person from Ukraine can legally enter the US? What is that process like and how long does it take?

Cory Forman: 

Well, again, it really depends on the circumstances. For people that are just desperate to get out... As I said, there is the asylum type program within the refugee system. Although it's years and years, you have to come up under a specific category of person that is persecuted based on social group, political opinion. And it's a very long process. And frankly, it's very rare these days, comparatively to asylum, in the way that people apply for that benefit through the refugee program. Humanitarian parole is another option that we just spoke about. There's also... If someone does have the ability to be sponsored for a Green Card, it's not that rare where a US citizen's spouse is living in the US and their Ukrainian spouse is back home and out of the country. They could sponsor them for a Green Card. Again, that's a long process, and right now, you do need the help of the US Consulate in Ukraine, and with what's going on in Ukraine, obviously, there's going to be delays and things of that nature that is just gonna slow down the process. But there are multiple ways, again, depending on the individual circumstances. Also, somebody has the ability to travel on a visa that they already have, and they're lucky to already have one before this war broke out, they can come and travel on that. Now, they can't come to stay indefinitely.

There were time periods where they would have to return to the Ukraine on a visa, but there's different avenues they can go that are really open to people from all across the world. And like I said, with the exception of TPS being designated for specific countries, there's nothing the US has done, or I anticipate will do that is specific policy-oriented towards the Ukrainian people. Although as I said, the Biden Administration has announced that they'll be accepting 100,000 Ukrainians, but some of those comments are more political than they are in the practical reality.

Molly Hendrickson: 

Mm-hmm. What can people do if they need assistance with immigration issues?

Cory Forman: 

Well, definitely always contact an immigration lawyer. We at Cohen Forman Barone, we've been doing this immigration law for 20 years. It's a very complex system. Just from this brief interview, you could tell there's many different components to it, there's different avenues, there's different paths, and there's a lot of unscrupulous... Not always lawyers out there that don't know what they're doing or give people wrong advice. So, you have to have a competent attorney to guide you, to appropriately analyze the situation, the individual's case, and then give them realistic options available.

Molly Hendrickson: 

Cory, we certainly appreciate your time. Thank you for talking to us today.

Cory Forman: 

Thank you so much Molly. Have a good day.

Molly Hendrickson: 

You too. That's gonna do it for this episode of Ask The Lawyer. I wanna remind you, if you'd like to ask Cory questions about your situation, go to askthelawyers.com, click a button at the top of the page that says "Ask a Lawyer" and it'll walk you through the very simple process. Thanks for watching. I'm Molly Hendrickson for Ask the Lawyers.

Disclaimer: This video is for informational purposes only. In some states, this video may be deemed Attorney Advertising. The choice of lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.


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