City and Barnes & Thornburg partner to provide legal assistance to Ukrainian refugees
Earlier this week, the City of South Bend announced a partnership with La Casa de Amistad providing legal aid to Afghan refugees. Now the city has announced another partnership to help Ukrainian refugees.
The city and law firm Barnes & Thornburg will host a volunteer workshop next month for Ukrainian citizens applying for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in the United States.
TPS expires after 18 months and does not lead to lawful permanent residence, but its recipients cannot leave the United States and can apply for employment authorization.
Michael Durham, an immigration lawyer and partner in the South Bend office of Barnes & Thornburg, said he has already been contacted by people in the community whose family members have settled in the area. after fleeing Ukraine.
“I was surprised how many people were already here,” he said. “One of my concerns is that we would announce this program and work on it and no one would show up, but it looks like there will be turnout.”
He said if there was a strong demand, the company would consider holding a second workshop or consulting on a one-to-one basis.
To be eligible for TPS, citizens of Ukraine must have continuous residence in the United States since April 11 and continuous physical presence since April 19.
The partnership is part of South Bend’s new involvement in the Welcome America network, a non-profit organization that helps local governments and other entities ensure smooth transitions for immigrants.
“We know Ukraine is on the front lines of our fight for democracy and freedom,” said South Bend Mayor James Mueller. “I know South Bend will welcome our Ukrainian neighbors with open arms and we will try to make this adjustment as smooth as possible.”
The workshop will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 2 at the Barnes & Thornburg office in downtown South Bend (201 S. Main St.)
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