This page lists immigration and study abroad information resources relevant to individuals impacted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- Visas and Entry
- Immigration Benefits for Individuals in the U.S.
- U.S. Students Abroad
- NAFSA and Other General Resources
See NAFSA's statement: NAFSA Stands with Ukraine.
NAFSA Joins ACE Letter to DOS and DHS Asking Agencies to Provide Flexibility and Support. On February 28, 2022, NAFSA joined a letter led by the American Council on Education (ACE), asking the Departments of State and Homeland Security to "provide as much flexibility and support as possible for Ukrainian students and scholars currently in the United States, and for students and scholars seeking to leave Ukraine during the current crisis."
NAFSA Asks ECA for SSR for Ukrainian J-1 Students. On February 28, 2022, NAFSA Executive Director & CEO, Dr. Esther D. Brimmer, sent a request to the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), asking the agency to grant Special Student Relief benefits to J-1 college and university students from Ukraine. On March 8, 2022, ECA responded by thanking NAFSA for its request, and to confirm that the agency is aware of the serious circumstances students are facing, and working with agency partners to promptly identify options to address these concerns.
NAFSA Asks SEVP for SSR for Ukrainian Students. On February 25, 2022, NAFSA Executive Director & CEO, Dr. Esther D. Brimmer, sent a request to the Director of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) asking DHS to grant Special Student Relief benefits to F-1 students from Ukraine. On February 28, 2022, SEVP responded by thanking NAFSA for its request, and to confirm that the agency is aware of the serious circumstances students are facing, and working with agency partners to promptly identify options to address these concerns.
NAFSA and Other Organizations Ask for TPS and SSR. NAFSA joined a February 25, 2022 letter signed by 177 organizations sent to President Biden and the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, requesting "an immediate 18-month designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) and Special Student Relief (SSR) for Ukraine."
Visas and Entry to the United States
Uniting for Ukraine Program
On April 21, 2022, DHS announced Uniting for Ukraine, which will provide "a pathway for displaced Ukrainian citizens and their immediate family members who are outside the United States to come to the United States and stay temporarily for a two-year period of parole. Ukrainians participating in Uniting for Ukraine must have a supporter in the United States who agrees to provide them with financial support for the duration of their stay in the United States. They will also be eligible to apply for discretionary employment authorization from USCIS... For additional information on the Uniting for Ukraine supporter and beneficiary eligibility requirements, please see our Uniting for Ukraine page."
Status of Consular Services in Kyiv. Department of State notice (Last Updated: February 22, 2022). Summary: "On February 13, 2022, the Department of State suspended consular services to include interview waiver services at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv. Applicants for U.S. nonimmigrant visas may apply in any country in which they are physically present and where there are appointments available. As each U.S. Embassy has specific application procedures, you should contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you wish to apply directly. Contact information for U.S. Embassies and Consulates is available at www.travel.state.gov." Read the full notice for further information.
Announcement of [Immigrant] Visa Processing Posts for Visa Applicants from Ukraine. Department of State notice (Last Updated: March 1, 2022). Summary: "The U.S. Mission to Ukraine is not currently offering visa services. Beginning immediately, Ukrainian immigrant visas (IVs) other than adoption cases will be processed at Consulate General Frankfurt, including Diversity Visa (DV) and Fianc(é)e (K-1) visas. The U.S. Embassy in Warsaw will process Ukrainian adoption cases as well as A and G diplomatic and official visas... Nonimmigrant visa (NIV) applications may be processed wherever a Ukrainian applicant is physically located and can schedule an appointment. Interested applicants should follow instructions on the respective Embassy website to apply for an NIV... Ukrainian applicants do not require a Schengen visa to enter Germany or Poland. However, IV and DV applicants who already have been scheduled for appointments in Frankfurt or Warsaw may request their cases be transferred to another post..."
Information for Nationals of Ukraine Message from DOS. (Last updated: May 17, 2022). On a page titled Information for Nationals of Ukraine, DOS reiterates that "The Department of State is not offering visa services in Ukraine at this time," and provides information on a number of scenarios under the categories of Nonimmigrant Visas, Immigrant Visas, Adoptions, COVID-19 Entry Requirements, Humanitarian Parole, Refugee Status, and Local Resources. The message on Nonimmigrant Visas is copied below. The page also includes information on immigrant visas.
Nonimmigrant visas are for temporary stays in the United States. They are not the appropriate tool to begin an immigrant, refugee, or resettlement process. If you apply for a nonimmigrant visa but are unable to demonstrate intent to leave the United States after a defined period in order to return to a residence abroad, a consular officer will refuse your application. All B1/B2 visa applicants are assumed to be intending immigrants - and therefore ineligible for a nonimmigrant visa - unless they can establish otherwise. Nonimmigrant visa applicants may apply at any embassy or consulate where they are physically present and where appointments are available. A full list of embassies and consulates is available here: https://www.usembassy.gov/. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, applicants may face extended visa interview wait times at some Embassies and Consulates. Appointment wait times are available at U.S. Visas (state.gov). Once an interview appointment is made, applicants will have the ability to request an expedited appointment, but must describe the unique circumstances that justify such a request."
Humanitarian Assistance and Visa Information for Ukrainians who have Evacuated to Poland
The U.S. Embassy in Poland website contains relevant information on a page titled Humanitarian Assistance and Visa Information for Ukrainians who have Evacuated to Poland, including information for Ukrainian citizens in Poland who want to travel to the United States.
Limited Exceptions to the Vaccination and COVID Test Requirements
Limited NIE for Certain Nonimmigrants Who Were Physically Present in Ukraine as of February 10, 2022
Limited National Interest Exception (NIE). On February 15, 2022, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued a very limited National Interest Exception (NIE) to the Proclamation 10294 of October 25, 2021 vaccination requirement, for certain nonimmigrants traveling to the United States with a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. Nonimmigrants admitted under this NIE will still "need to attest to having made arrangements to receive a COVID-19 test within three to five days of arrival in the United States, to self-quarantine for seven days, to self-isolate in the event of a positive COVID-19 test or the development of COVID-19 symptoms, and to become fully vaccinated for COVID-19 within 60 days of arrival in the United States if intending to stay in the United States for more than 60 days." Following a February 28, 2022 amendment and a March 29, 2022 amendment to the original order, this NIE was in effect until 11:59 P.M. EDT, April 30, 2022. Consult the full notices for further information.
Allowing Certain Persons from Ukraine to Travel to the United States Without a Pre-Departure COVID-19 Test
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced an "exercise of enforcement discretion" in which "covered persons will not be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result prior to boarding a flight to the United States or to complete the attestation at Section 1 of the Combined Passenger Disclosure and Attestation to the United States of America form."
- "This exercise of enforcement discretion is limited to the following groups of individuals, to the extent they were physically present in Ukraine as of February 10, 2022: U.S. citizens; lawful permanent residents; noncitizens in possession of a valid U.S. immigrant visa; as well as noncitizen nonimmigrants who are traveling with a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and possess valid travel documents allowing them to travel to the United States (collectively, "covered persons"). This exercise of enforcement discretion will enter into effect immediately and will now expire on April 30, 2022, at 2359 ET, subject to any further extensions."
U.S. Consular Operations in Russia and Belarus
Embassy Operations Suspended in Minsk, Belarus. In a February 28, 2022 press statement, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced: "The U.S. Department of State has suspended operations at our Embassy in Minsk, Belarus and authorized the voluntary departure (“authorized departure”) of non-emergency employees and family members at our Embassy in Moscow, Russia. We took these steps due to security and safety issues stemming from the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces in Ukraine. The Department of State continually adjusts its posture at embassies and consulates throughout the world in line with its mission, the local security environment, and the health situation. We ultimately have no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens, and that includes our U.S. government personnel and their dependents serving around the world."
Prior Announcement Regarding F, M, J Visa Processing for Residents of Russia. On January 21, 2022, prior and unrelated to the February, 2022 attack on Ukraine, the Department of State announced that it had designated consular offices at "Mission Kazakhstan and U.S. embassies Belgrade and Yerevan" to accept applications from residents of Russia applying for F, M, and J visas, "due to the severely limited consular operations in Moscow." DOS also said "This designation does not prevent Russia-based F, M, and J applicants from applying at another post where they are physically present."
In accordance with the above, the U.S. Embassy in Serbia website and the U.S. Embassy in Armenia website say that consular posts in Belgrade and Yerevan are "now a designated processing post for the following types of Russian nonimmigrant visa applicants who are resident in Russia:
- All F-type student visas
- All M-type student visas
- J-type visas for academic exchange visitors
- J-type visas for U.S. Government-funded exchange visitors"
Both websites state that "Please note that this designation for Russian applicants does not guarantee that a visa appointment will be available for all applicants in the above designated visa categories," due to COVID protocol limitations and backlogs. The Belgrade site further states that "All NIV applicants are expected to speak either English or Serbian at their visa interview. No interpreters will be permitted in the waiting room."
The June 9, 2022 Department of State/AILA Liaison Committee Meeting notes that DOS posted on its website on June 21, 2022 contain the following Q/A:
"46. On January 21, DOS announced that Russian academic F/J/M applicants could apply for their nonimmigrant visas in Mission Kazakhstan and at U.S. Embassies in Belgrade and Yerevan. This is still posted on TSG. Does this remain accurate?
Response: Yes, Mission Kazakhstan and U.S. embassies Belgrade and Yerevan remain designated processing posts for Russian F, M, and academic or U.S. Government-funded J visa applicants."
Executive Order 14065 of February 21, 2022 Suspends U.S. Entry for Certain Individuals Supporting Russian Recognition of DNR and LNR Regions of Ukraine. In response to "the Russian Federation's purported recognition of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) or Luhansk People's Republic (LNR) regions of Ukraine," Executive Order 14065 of February 21, 2022 suspends entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State to have engaged in certain activities in support of "the so-called DNR or LNR regions of Ukraine or such other regions of Ukraine as may be determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State (collectively, the 'Covered Regions')."
President Biden remarked on February 24, 2022 that “The Russian military has begun a brutal assault on the people of Ukraine without provocation, without justification, without necessity.” Remarks by President Biden on Russia’s Unprovoked and Unjustified Attack on Ukraine (February 24, 2022).
The Department of State reported that due to attacks on major Ukrainian cities, “the Ukrainian government closed its airspace to commercial flights … [and] … declared a state of emergency.” Ukraine Travel Advisory (February 24, 2022).
Ukraine Restricts Departure of Ukrainian Males Aged 18-60. CNN reported that the Ukraine State Border Guard Service stated that following a February 24, 2022 general military mobilization and conscription of recruits ordered by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine has banned all male citizens aged 18-60 from leaving the country. See Ukrainian males aged 18-60 are banned from leaving the country, Zelensky says in new declaration, CNN, February 24, 2022.
Immigration Benefits for Individuals in the U.S.
Special Student Relief (SSR)
SSR for F-1 Students, from DHS
ICE/SEVP published a Special Student Relief (SSR) notice for Ukrainian students, effective April 19, 2022. Federal Register notice published at 87 FR 23189 (April 19, 2022). To be eligible, an F-1 student must:
- Be a citizen of Ukraine, regardless of country of birth (or be an individual having no nationality who last habitually resided in Ukraine);
- Have been lawfully present in the United States in F-1 nonimmigrant status on April 19, 2022;
- Be currently maintaining F-1 nonimmigrant status;
- Be enrolled in an SEVP-certified academic institution; and
- Be experiencing severe economic hardship "as a direct result of the ongoing armed conflict in Ukraine"
For background on SSR, visit NAFSA's page Special Student Relief For F-1 Students: Essential Concepts
SSR for J-1 College and University Students, from DOS
On Ukrainian National Day, August 24, 2022, the Department of State (DOS) informed Exchange Visitor Program sponsors in an email that it will soon issue a Federal Register notice describing the details of Special Student Relief (SSR) arrangements for eligible Ukrainian J-1 college and university students. NAFSA confirmed with the BridgeUSA Office of Private Sector Exchange Designation that sponsors must wait until the Federal Register notice is published before approving Special Student Relief benefits for eligible J-1 students. It is hoped that the Federal Register notice will be published in the next two or three weeks.
Please refer to NAFSA's page Special Student Relief for Ukrainian J-1 Students for additional information.
Temporary Protected Status
On April 19, 2022, USCIS published a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) notice for citizens of Ukraine, at 87 FR 23211 (April 19, 2022). "This designation allows eligible Ukrainian nationals (and individuals having no nationality who last habitually resided in Ukraine) who have continuously resided in the United States since April 11, 2022, and who have been continuously physically present in the United States since April 19, 2022 to apply for TPS." The 18-month designation period is effective on April 19, 2022 through October 19, 2023.
For background on TPS, visit:
- The USCIS Temporary Protected Status page
- NAFSA's page Basics of Temporary Protected Status
- The American Immigration Council's page Ukrainians in the United States Who May Qualify for Temporary Protected Status: An Overview
DHS Special Situations Resources
Immigration Help Available to Those Affected by Special Situations, Including the Invasion of Ukraine. On March 4, 2022, USCIS messaged the availability of its standard array of "immigration services that may help people affected by extreme situations, including the invasion of Ukraine." The "special situation" array includes things like change of nonimmigrant status, requests for expedited handling and fee waivers, standard F-1 off-campus employment applications, etc. The USCIS message also references USCIS's standard Special Situations page.
Fact Sheet: DHS Efforts to Assist Ukranian Nationals. DHS Office of Public Affairs (March 31, 2022).
U.S. Students Abroad
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has issued a ‘Level 4 – Do Not Travel’ advisory for Ukraine and Russia. DOS urges all U.S. citizens to depart Russia or Ukraine immediately. Advisers should consult the travel advisories and information below from the Department of State.
- DOS Level 4 Travel Advisory Ukraine
- DOS Level 4 Travel Advisory Russia
- DOS Information for U.S. Citizens in Ukraine
- DOS Information for U.S. Citizens in Russia
You can also find additional NAFSA resources on education abroad health and safety.
General NAFSA Resources
Other General Resources
Inclusive Admissions Policies for Displaced and Vulnerable Students (American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officer - AACRAO - 2019)
Ukrainian Students Find Refuge at US Colleges, Voice of America's Learning English website, August 27, 2022, citing and summarizing a recent report by the Institute of International Education (IIE) regarding universities that are offering some kind of assistance to Ukrainian students.