Breaking News
More () »

Ukrainian mothers in limbo as U.S. visa expires soon, hopes to remain in Oak Ridge

In less than a year, the Ukrainian mothers and their kids have called East Tennessee home.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — A group of Ukrainian mothers is desperate to stay in the U.S. as their visa is soon to expire.

She and other mothers were forced to abandon her war-torn country. She and the other mother's only request is to stay in East Tennessee.

But their future is unclear and filled with doubts.

"There's only a few months left," Tania Alfimova said, one of the mothers. "And we just don't know what we have to do with all our kids."

The mothers fled Ukraine one year ago. They escaped to Poland for a short period, then Mexico before making their way to East Tennessee on Humane Parole. 

Now their sense of safety and belonging has an expiration date because their visas are expiring.

Mariia Ludwig, a mother, lives with Alfimova. She said she fears going back as the war continues.

"We started from the beginning again, and then like, we have to leave and start something again like everything somewhere else," Ludwig said. 

The family is currently at a standstill as their options are limited.

Right now they can't apply for asylum and can only request help from the U.S. if they're outside of the country. However, they don't have the money to go somewhere else.

Going back to Ukraine for them means a life in the midst of war. Their husbands are still there serving on the front lines.

"My husband, he told me that they haven't any electricity, water and heat,"  Alfimova said. 

For this group of mothers and kids, in less than a year, East Tennessee has become home. Their kids have found normalcy and joined classes, like karate.

"Thank you for what we already have here, we have a lot and we appreciate it very much yes, we came here like without anything," Ludwig said.

Their last memory of home is one that will stay with them forever.

"It was the very worst days I think in my life," Ludwig said.

These moms have done everything they can. From contacting state leaders to local organizations, so far they have no solutions.

Right now they're counting down the days until they have to go back to Ukraine.

Before You Leave, Check This Out