On Thursday, April 21, President Biden announced Uniting for Ukraine, a new initiative streamlining the process of welcoming Ukrainian citizens to the United States. This follows Biden’s March 24 commitment to welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainians and others fleeing the Russian invasion. Additionally, the State Department announced increased refugee resettlement processing and broadened access to visa processing at overseas consular posts.
Key Details of the Uniting for Ukraine Program
Uniting for Ukraine is a streamlined process for Ukrainian citizens and others displaced by the war in Ukraine to apply for humanitarian parole in the United States.
- To be eligible, Ukrainians must have been residents in Ukraine as of February 11, 2022, have a sponsor in the United States, complete vaccinations and other public health requirements, and pass rigorous biometric and biographic screening, vetting, and security checks.
- Approved Ukrainians will be authorized to travel to the United States and be considered for parole, on a case-by-case basis, for up to two years.
- Once paroled through this process, Ukrainians will be eligible for work authorization.
The United States strongly encourages Ukrainians seeking refuge in the United States who do not have and are not eligible for a visa to seek entry via Uniting for Ukraine from Europe, this will be the safest and most efficient way to pursue temporary refuge in the United States. The U.S. government is working with European partners to ensure Ukrainians can meet the vaccination requirements of Uniting for Ukraine.
How does Sponsorship work?
Beginning on April 25, 2022, any U.S. citizen or individual, including representatives of non-government organizations, can sponsor Ukrainian applicants. Sponsorship information and the application will be published on the DHS website on April 25. Sponsors must declare their financial support and meet the vaccinations and other public health requirements, and pass the biographic and biometric screening, vetting, and security checks.
Changes to Current Processes
The US Government advises Ukrainians to not travel to Mexico to gain entry to the United States. Following the launch of the Uniting for Ukraine program, Ukrainians who present at US ports of entry without a valid visa or pre-authorization via the program will be denied entry and told to apply through this program.
Expanded Refugee Support
In addition to Uniting for Ukraine, the Department of State will expand U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) operations in Europe to provide eligible Ukrainians with greater access to refugee resettlement processing under the Lautenberg program and expand referral mechanisms for Ukrainians and others who need permanent resettlement.
The United States is working with European partners, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and NGOs to identify particularly vulnerable Ukrainian citizens and others fleeing the conflict who may warrant permanent resettlement through USRAP. This includes women and girls, children, older persons with special needs, members of ethnic and religious minority groups, LGBTQI+ persons, persons with disabilities, medically fragile individuals, and stateless persons.
European embassies and consulates are increasing the number of nonimmigrant visa appointments and ensuring there is an expedited visa appointment program for individuals with humanitarian, medical, or other extraordinary circumstances to get priority access.