By: Gurshaan Chattha
President Biden is expected to announce a new streamlined system for Ukrainian citizens fleeing the Russian invasion. The policy, called Uniting for Ukraine, will fulfill Biden’s commitment to welcoming 100,000 Ukrainians and others as a result of the ongoing Russian conflict in the region. As part of the program, US citizens will be able to sponsor Ukrainians for immigration to the United States.
The United States State Department will also increase refugee resettlement processing and allow visa processing at overseas consular posts. The new policies aim to expand preexisting humanitarian assistance for Ukraine from the United States and European countries.
The Uniting for Ukraine Program
Starting on April 25, 2022, the new process will allow US-based individuals to sponsor Ukrainian citizens affected by the Russian invasion. The new process will be available on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) website once launched.
Ukrainians who are ineligible for a United States visa are encouraged to gain legal access to the United States via the new program.
Eligibility Criteria for Recipients
In order to be eligible for sponsorship by a US citizen, an individual must meet the following criteria:
- Residency in Ukraine as of February 11, 2022.
- Sponsorship from a United States citizen or organization.
- Meet all vaccinations and other public health requirements.
- Pass all biometric and biographic screening.
- Pass any security check.
Ukrainians Currently Residing in Other Countries
Ukrainian citizens who are currently residing in Europe and want to access the United States should apply through the Uniting for Ukraine program. The United States is working with their European partners to ensure all travelers from Europe meet vaccination and public health guidelines.
Similarly, the United States discourages Ukrainian citizens from traveling to Mexico to try to enter the United States. Once the Uniting for Ukraine policy is unveiled, any Ukrainian presenting at a land port of entry without a valid visa or pre-authorization will be denied entry.
Once an individual has been approved through the Uniting the Ukraine program, they will be authorized to travel to the United States. There are still many unknowns regarding the program, including the parole requirements and the application process. It is expected more information will be released soon.
Additional Options for Ukrainians
The United States will expand its existing legal options for Ukrainians to enter the country. This includes the Department of State growing the US Admissions Program (USRAP) in Europe. The US will also provide more Ukrainians with refugee resettlement processing under the Lautenberg program for some religious minorities, and increase access to referral mechanisms for individuals affected by the invasion looking for permanent resettlement.
While the application process is currently unknown, it is expected to be long and thorough and will likely overwhelm the portal on the day of launch. For assistance in filing, questions of eligibility, or to see if you qualify, contact your contact at the Chugh, LLP immigration team.