Uniting for Ukraine Program
On April 25, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security announced Uniting for Ukraine – a new program for allowing Ukrainians fleeing from the war to enter the United States on humanitarian parole.
Humanitarian parole is a permission to enter the United States for humanitarian reasons, such as war. Humanitarian parole allows you to legally stay in the U.S. for the designated time period. With this status, you can apply for work authorization and send your children to school.
🚨 The wait time for the work authorization can be from several months to over a year. You will likely not qualify for any federal government assistance programs.
Uniting for Ukraine sets up a process for Ukrainian nationals who have been displaced by Russia’s aggression to apply for lawful entry in the United States.
First, a U.S.-based supporter must apply to the U.S. government pledging financial support for a Ukrainian national or family the sponsor wants to invite in the U.S. Then, if the supporter’s application is sufficient, the Ukrainian beneficiaries may be allowed to arrive in the United States on humanitarian parole for a period of up to two years.
Who is Eligible for Entry under Uniting for Ukraine
To be eligible for entry in the U.S., a person must:
Be a citizen of Ukraine and possess a valid Ukrainian passport (or be a child included in the parent’s passport);
A Ukrainian citizen may bring along immediate family members (spouse or common-law partner and unmarried children under the age of 21);
Have resided in Ukraine immediately prior to the Russian invasion, through Feb. 11, 2022, and have been displaced as a result of the invasion;
Have a supporter who filed a Form I-134 on their behalf that has been vetted and approved by the immigration service;
Clear biographic and biometric security checks.
Сhildren under the age of 18 must be traveling to the United States in the care and custody of their parent or legal guardian. Minors traveling without a parent or legal guardian may be detained. For more information, see Unaccompanied Minors.
Who Can Be a Supporter
Any individual who has a lawful status in the United States, who has passed security and background vetting and demonstrated sufficient financial resources to receive and support the Ukrainian beneficiaries throughout the duration of their stay in the U.S. may become a supporter.
To start an application, the supporter must file Form I-134, Declaration of Financial Support, with USCIS. The supporter will then be vetted by the U.S. government to ensure that he or she is able to financially support the Ukrainian beneficiary. The program contemplates that a group of people or an organization may back an I-134 application; however, a natural person must sign the form.
Supporting a Ukrainian beneficiary is a serious financial responsibility. The supporter pledges to the U.S. government that he or she is prepared to:
Receive the Ukrainian beneficiary upon their arrival in the U.S. and transport them to initial housing;
Ensure that the beneficiary has safe and appropriate housing for the duration of their parole and initial basic necessities;
As appropriate, help the beneficiary complete necessary paperwork for employment authorization, for a Social Security card, and other services;
Ensure that the beneficiary’s health care and medical needs are met for the duration of the parole; and
As appropriate, assist the beneficiary with accessing education, learning English, securing employment and enrolling children in school.
Form I-134 must be supported by evidence of the supporter’s financial sufficiency, including proof of income, letters from employers, tax returns, letters from banks, proof of liquid assets, and information about existing dependents and their income contribution.
If USCIS is satisfied with the supporter’s I-134 application, it will notify the Ukrainian beneficiary by email.
Prior to travel, the Ukrainian beneficiary must attest that they have completed vaccine requirements or are eligible for an exception to vaccine requirements for measles, polio, and the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Upon arrival in the U.S., the beneficiary must submit to a tuberculosis screening.
Immigration attorney James Root answers frequently asked questions about Uniting for Ukraine (timecodes available in the video description)
For more details, see USCIS website.
🚨 The U.S. strongly encourages Ukrainians seeking entry under Uniting for Ukraine to complete the application process from Europe. Ukrainians traveling to Mexico to pursue entry into the United States without a visa or pre-authorization will be denied entry.