Updated at 6:50 a.m. on March 4

The Biden administration is extending temporary protected status to Ukrainians already in the United States, a form of humanitarian relief that protects them from deportation in the wake of Russia's invasion of their home country.

Ukrainians who were in the United States as of March 1, 2022 are eligible, and the protection will extend for a full 18 months, according the Department of Homeland Security. In the Thursday night announcement, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas cited Russia’s “premeditated and unprovoked attack on Ukraine” and “senseless violence” as a reason for the move.

“In these extraordinary times, we will continue to offer our support and protection to Ukrainian nationals in the United States,” he wrote in a statement. This followed an announcement that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would halt deportations to that country.

The TPS designation will surely impact some of the 10,000 Ukrainians currently living in Massachusetts, some of who are on student visas and work visas that will eventually expire. Temporary protected status, or TPS allows people to work legally and be free from the fear of deportation. TPS applicants have to meet all eligibility requirements and undergo security and background checks.

“I’m grateful to President Biden for heeding our calls and extending TPS relief to Ukrainians. This is a critical step to protect Ukrainians in the United States by ensuring they aren't forced to a nation under siege,” said Rep. Lori Trahan, who was one of many in the Massachusetts delegation to sign letters to Biden requesting the immigration relief.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley joined her in applauding the announcement, and asked that the policy also be extended to Cameroon, Afghanistan, Guatemala, and other non-European countries.

"The United States has an obligation to respond compassionately and equitably to humanitarian crises across the globe," she wrote in a statement. "I am so glad the Administration has heeded our calls to designate Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status and halt all deportation flights to Ukraine."

The move also was praised by Jane Yavarow, the parish president of St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Jamaica Plain.

"If that were me and I had family there, I'd be torn," she said. "And maybe there'll be people who just will go back because they are patriotic, or they want to protect family members. But if they have an option to stay here legally and they want to, I think that's wonderful."

Biden and Mayorkas were under pressure from both sides of the aisle to extend the relief, with many senators writing last week, “Forcing Ukrainian nationals to return to Ukraine in the midst of a war would be inconsistent with America’s values and our national security interests.”

The Immigration and Nationality Act, a longtime piece of federal law, gives the Department of Homeland Security the power to extend TPS to citizens from countries facing war, natural and humanitarian disasters. Ukraine is the 13th country with TPS designation, joining Syria, Venezuela, Haiti, and others.

The Center for American Progress recently said TPS could protect 96,000 non-U.S. citizen Ukrainians, included 27,000 who are undocumented.

Legislators additionally asked any students here on an F-1 student visa be able to access special student relief status.

There is no word on whether that will happen, and DHS did not return requests for comment on Thursday night. About 2,000 students would eligible for special student relief, protecting them from deportation and giving them the ability to work during their course of study.

GBH News reporter Esteban Bustillos also contributed to this report.