Due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began in late February 2022, Ukrainian people have begun pouring into neighboring Poland by the thousands. As the fighting continues, many of these displaced people are now hoping to find more long-term living arrangements in Poland or the United States.
For those hoping to travel to America, the options are limited, but it’s important to understand them. Discussing your unique situation with a licensed U.S. attorney can help you determine what actions may be best for you.
Poland has a U.S. Embassy in Warsaw and a U.S. Consulate General in Krakow. The immigration services offered here are limited to non-immigrant visa applications and family-based immigration petitions.
The U.S. Embassy and Consulate in Poland have set up 24-hour phone lines for Ukraine-related calls. Unfortunately, due to the extremely high number of calls, the agents answering these lines are only able to gather limited information about each caller and offer general solutions.
Non-immigrant visas are available for travelers planning a temporary stay in the U.S., such as students or those planning a trip for business, leisure, or medical treatment. Applicants for non-immigrant visas will be required to show strong evidence that they are not planning to immigrate to the U.S. This may include:
To apply for a non-immigrant visa, you will need to complete a DS-160 online visa application, request a visa appointment, and pay the visa fee. Because it can be difficult to show non-immigrant intent when applying, it is highly recommended that you have a qualified immigration attorney review your application before submitting it.
The wait time for a visa appointment varies depending on the current demand. As of this writing, the wait times in Krakow were around 100 days and about 130 days in Warsaw, or about three to four months to get an appointment. You can check current wait times for nonimmigrant visa appointments on the Department of State website.
It is possible to request an expedited or emergency appointment, but again demand is high. You will only have one chance to make this request, so you should consider working with an experienced immigration attorney to help you present a strong case.
Special consideration may be given to Ukrainians with spouses or children who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. Applicants in this category should consult with an immigration attorney or advocate for the latest information before applying.
The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv is currently closed. For family-based visa applicants designated to Kyiv, the new processing post will be at the U.S. Embassy in Frankfurt, Germany. New case numbers from Kyiv are automatically being reassigned to Frankfurt by the U.S. Department of State’s National Visa Center.
U.S. Embassies in Germany have been used in the past to handle spikes in demand for visas. Requests for expedited processing are also available in Frankfurt, and some applicants have reported success with these requests. An immigration lawyer can help you properly document your need for expedited processing.
In certain exceptional circumstances, U.S. Embassies may allow for a direct consular filing (DCF) for the spouse of a U.S. citizen, even though no I-130 Petition has been filed in the U.S.
DCF is for petitioners who are residents in a particular country abroad with permission to be a resident there or citizenship there to petition for the beneficiary immediate relative who is also living in the jurisdiction of the relevant consular post. In other words, the petitioner and their beneficiary spouse must both be living abroad, and petitioners cannot fly to a country and be considered a resident there. DCF is most commonly used in the case of short-term relocations back to the US for the petitioner or their beneficiary spouse.
The standard used to determine exceptional circumstances which allow for DCF is available in the USCIS Policy Manual. Application for DCF in Germany is made at this email address: email@example.com. Application for DCF in Poland is made at this email address: support-Poland@ustraveldocs.com.
Fiancé visa petitions are not eligible for filing at U.S. Embassies abroad. These petitions must be filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) in the U.S., but expedited processing may be requested.
It is not possible to apply for asylum in the United States from another country. Ukrainians arriving in Poland should not apply to the U.S. Embassy in Poland as refugees or asylum-seekers. Assistance may be available from the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR. Our website offers additional information here on eligibility for asylum.
The attorneys and staff at Sverdloff Law Group are working hard to provide legal assistance to Ukrainians locally, as well as helping those abroad. Our founder, Julia Sverdloff, is Ukrainian, and her parents are refugees from Odessa. Our commitment to helping reunite families is stronger than ever. Please call our office to see how we can help with your immigration journey.