As the world reels from the invasion of Ukraine by Russia and the resulting crisis, affected HR professionals, and Ukrainian and other employees, are scrambling to address the ensuing issues and problems. Below are tips, updates, and resources that may be helpful.
Tips for HR Professionals
Ukrainian employees will be suffering, and it’s understandable that HR professionals will want to help however they can. Other employees also may find it difficult to cope with the ongoing bad news, and Russian employees may be affected. HR professionals don’t need to just sit idly by. Some things to do include:
- Decide what type of support your company can offer and deliver. For example, are counseling, bereavement support, mental health benefits, and life guidance services covered and available, such as through an employee assistance program? Can HR offer employees practical help in their area? Can the company offer flexible working hours and time off, relaxed mobile phone policies, unpaid holidays or paid special leave, or adjusted deadlines through managers?
- Send out a company-wide message of support rather than contacting individuals. This helps to avoid any appearance of discrimination or privacy violation. Managers/supervisors can be enlisted to take the lead in talking with their teams and offering targeted flexibilities or providing personalized support if the need arises.
- Encourage employees to discuss their thoughts, respect others, and ask for support if they want it. Acknowledge the crisis and employees’ need to prioritize related personal or family issues.
- Help with evacuations and immediate support for employees in Ukraine or those displaced by the Russian invasion. For example, can your company offer relocation or financial support for affected employees?
- Offer tips to help keep your employees safe if they need to move or cross a border. The Department of State recommends carrying extra batteries and power banks for mobile phones; bringing enough food and water for at least two days; stocking up on diapers and baby food, if applicable; bringing blankets, sleeping bags, and warm clothes; bringing pet food, if applicable; bringing paper copies of important documents and not relying solely on cell phones and electronic devices; and booking accommodations before arrival if possible.
- Have your company consider making a contribution or a company-matching pledge to contribute to a humanitarian organization, and communicate that to employees.
A new crowdsourced site, HR for Ukraine, is offering and seeking resources that may be useful from an HR point of view to support the people of Ukraine and to support involved HR professionals. Also, a LinkedIn thread posted by Lars Schmidt is posting examples of internal messages from company leadership to employees related to the war.
US Immigration Options for Ukrainian Nationals
The information below provides additional details that may be of help in particular situations.
- For eligible Ukrainians in the United States since March 1, 2022, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that Ukraine is designated for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, effective when the Federal Register notice is published, which is expected imminently. The notice will provide details on eligibility and the steps to follow to apply and obtain a work permit (Employment Authorization Document).
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that immigration help is available on a case-by-case basis for those affected by “special situations,” including the invasion of Ukraine. The list of measures includes:
- Changing a nonimmigrant status or extending a nonimmigrant stay for an individual currently in the United States. USCIS said, “If you fail to apply for the extension or change before expiration of your authorized period of admission, we may excuse that if the delay was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control”;
- Re-parole of individuals previously granted parole by USCIS;
- Expedited processing of advance parole requests;
- Expedited adjudication of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship;
- Expedited adjudication of petitions or applications, including employment authorization applications, when appropriate;
- Consideration of fee waiver requests due to an inability to pay;
- Flexibility for those who received a Request for Evidence or a Notice of Intent to Deny but were unable to submit evidence or otherwise respond in a timely manner;
- Flexibility if an applicant is unable to appear for a scheduled interview with USCIS;
- Expedited replacement of lost or damaged immigration or travel documents issued by USCIS, such as a Permanent Resident Card (Green Card), Employment Authorization Document, or Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record; and
- Rescheduling a biometric services appointment.
Visa Services Overseas
The U.S. Mission to Ukraine is unable to offer visa services. The Department of State announced that Ukrainian immigrant visas (IVs) other than adoption cases will be processed at Consulate General Frankfurt. (The U.S. Embassy in Warsaw will process Ukrainian adoption cases as well as A and G diplomatic and official visas.) The announcement includes the following details:
- Contact KyivIV@state.gov with questions about Ukrainian immigrant and fianc(é)e visa cases.
- 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 relevant U.S. Embassy website to apply for a nonimmigrant visa. A list of U.S. Embassy websites is at https://www.usembassy.gov.
- Ukrainian applicants do not require a Schengen visa to enter Germany or Poland. However, immigrant visa (IV) and diversity visa (DV) applicants who already have been scheduled for appointments in Frankfurt or Warsaw may request that their cases be transferred to another post. To do so, the applicant should contact the alternate post to request a case transfer, and the transfer is contingent upon the alternate post’s acceptance of the case.
- IV and DV applicants who have not yet been scheduled will be automatically reassigned to Frankfurt and will be notified once their appointment is on the calendar. Unscheduled Ukrainian DV applicants who need to interview outside of Germany can send requests to KCCDV@state.gov.
U.S. citizens seeking to leave Ukraine can call 1-833-741-2777 (in the United States) or 1-606-260-4379 (from overseas) for immediate assistance. An online form is at https://cacms.state.gov/s/crisis-intake.
Ukrainian Immigration Updates
Please visit our Ukrainian immigration updates page for timely news and legal developments.
Donations to Assist Ukrainian Nationals
Please visit our Donations page for a list of charities assisting Ukrainian refugees and offering humanitarian programs.
Contact your WR attorney for advice and help in specific situations.