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 your children can attend school.
🚨 The wait time for the work authorization can be several months.
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 support for a Ukrainian national or family the supporter 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.
Immigration attorney James Root answers frequently asked questions about Uniting for Ukraine (timecodes available in the video description)
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.
Where to Find a Supporter
Most Ukrainians applying for admission under Uniting for Ukraine intend to stay with their relatives or close friends in the U.S. who act as supporters and sign form I-134. If you do not have anyone in the U.S. who can be your supporter, you can search for a good Samaritan willing to be a supporter on the resources listed below.
🚨 Mind your safety! Before giving away your passport details and accepting any offers of housing and/or a job, make sure the supporter is trustworthy and the offer is legitimate.
It does not cost any money for the sponsor to file the form. If the sponsor asks you for money in exchange for sponsorship this is likely a scam!
Keep in mind that a supporter is not obligated to give you housing or help you financially! Prepare to be responsible for your own living arrangements and finances.
Who Can Be a Supporter
Any legal resident of the United States can be a supporter, you do not have to be a citizen or green card holder.
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 fill out online 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 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 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 take a QuantiFERON-TB blood test for tuberculosis.
Webinar in English about how the supporter should fill out form I-134
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.
Vaccination and TB Test Requirements
Persons arriving in the U.S. under the Uniting for Ukraine program must complete vaccination and TB blood test requirements within 90 days of arrival.
You must fill out an attestation that you have received polio, measles and COVID-19 vaccines prior to travel to the United States. If you are not able to complete polio and COVID-19 vaccinations before arrival, they can be completed after your arrival to the United States. You do not need proof of COVID-19 vaccine to travel to the United States.
To obtain vaccination in the United States:
Vaccinations are covered by Medicaid health insurance which you can obtain upon arrival. Once you get your insurance card number, see your primary care physician and get a referral for a vaccine.
If you do not have health insurance, vaccinations are available at free or sliding scale fee clinics. See the medical aid section to find a clinic near you.
Vaccinations can also be obtained at a local retail pharmacy (CVS, Walgreens, etc.).
Covid-19 vaccinations are free regardless of whether you have insurance
You must take a tuberculosis blood test called QuantiFERON TB or IGRA within 90 days of arriving in the United States.
You can obtain a TB test at a primary care office, urgent care, or diagnostic laboratory (such as Quest or LabCorp). If you need a doctor's referral, you can obtain it from your primary care physician under your Medicaid insurance.
The test may be covered by your insurance. If you do not have health insurance, a test will cost between $80-$200. Lower cost tests may be available at community clinics near you.
Keep the test results for your records. You must submit an attestation that you have completed the test to USCIS, but you do not need to upload the results.
🚨 Can I forgo vaccination and TB testing requirements upon arrival?
No! Follow all requirements of the UFU program. If you fail to meet vaccination and testing requirements, you may have issues in future when seeking employment, pursuing education, or applying for a change of status.