How Americans Can Sponsor Ukrainian Refugees

The Biden administration on Monday established a program that allows Americans to sponsor Ukrainian refugees and have them temporarily stay in the United States under a system known as humanitarian parole.

The program, called Uniting for Ukraine, is a piece of a larger initiative to temporarily resettle as many as 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, but migrants themselves cannot directly apply. Instead, a sponsor in the United States must apply on their behalf, and then migrants may complete the process after their sponsor is approved.

Here’s how the program works:

Most people who reside legally in the United States – including green card holders and other immigrants – may apply to sponsor Ukrainian migrants, as long as they can prove they can financially support them. That could include providing room and board or direct payments to the refugees for necessary expenses.

Sponsors must designate specific refugees to assist. Welcome.US, a humanitarian group for refugee resettlement, has created a mailing list for people interested in becoming a sponsor.

Here’s a step-by-step process of how sponsors can apply:

  • Go to the web portal for the program at dhs.gov/ukraine.

  • File an I-134 form. This document helps prove the sponsor can financially support the Ukrainians while they are in the United States. Sponsors must document their own income and assets, as well as the income and assets of the migrants and families being sponsored.

  • The sponsor will then go through a government vetting process “to protect against exploitation and abuse” of the migrants, according to the instructions on the web portal. Officials reviewing the application may also ask the sponsor for additional supporting evidence or an interview before approval.

  • If approved, the sponsor will be notified in writing.

Ukrainian citizens and their children and spouses or common-law partners can qualify for humanitarian parole under the program. They need not be in Ukraine now, but must have fled after Feb. 11.

After their sponsor is approved, Ukrainians and families who were listed in the application will receive notification of the next steps in the process.

Those include:

  • Confirming personal information – such as names, dates of birth, phone numbers and addresses – as well as family relationships using a myUSCIS account.

  • Providing evidence of vaccination for measles, polio and the coronavirus.

  • Passing security checks.

  • Undergoing a medical screening for tuberculosis within 14 days of arriving in the United States.

After completing the necessary steps, migrants will be notified of final approval and authorization to travel to the United States through myUSCIS. Migrants must then enter the United States within 90 days, and are responsible for arranging their travel once approved.

Ukrainian migrants who are approved for the program may stay for up to two years. They may also request authorization to work in the United States once they arrive.

The administration said the program was intended to be speedier than the usual immigration process, but could not say how long it might take.

Ukrainians already in the United States can not apply for humanitarian parole. They can, however, apply for temporary protected status, which allows them to stay and work for up to 18 months, as long as they were in the United States since April 11 or earlier.

The Biden administration closed the border to Ukrainian migrants on Monday. Anyone still in Mexico can apply for humanitarian parole with a sponsor, but must wait for approval before entering the United States.

There is no fee for Ukrainians to apply for humanitarian parole through this program. Filing for humanitarian parole through the standard form costs $ 575 per person. Ukrainians who already paid that fee through another pending application can have it refunded.

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