The United States has created an immigration program entitled “Uniting for Ukraine” that provides a way for Ukrainian citizens and their immediate family members to come to the United States and stay temporarily in a 2 year period of parole. Parole is basically a permission to stay in the United States for humanitarian reasons.
The program requires that a U.S. supporter file an Form I-134A Online Request to be a Supporter and Declaration of Financial Support on behalf of the Ukranian(s) in need. The I-134A form is filed online, after establishing a USCIS online account. There is no filing fee. A single form is required for each Ukranian applicant, including for minor children under the age of 18. The U.S. supporter must be in the United States. Supporters can be U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, nonimmigrants in lawful status, asyless, refugees, parolees, TPS holders and DACA beneficiaries, among other U.S. residents.
A U.S. supporter may have to provide support as follows:
- Receiving the beneficiary upon arrival in the United States and transporting them to initial housing;
- Ensuring that the beneficiary has safe and appropriate housing for the duration of their parole and initial basic necessities;
- As appropriate, helping the beneficiary complete necessary paperwork such as for employment authorization, for a Social Security card, and for services for which they may be eligible;
- Ensuring that the beneficiary’s health care and medical needs are met for the duration of the parole; and
- As appropriate, assisting the beneficiary with accessing education, learning English, securing employment and enrolling children in school.
Ukranian beneficiaries are eligible for the process if they:
- Resided in Ukraine immediately before the Russian invasion (through Feb. 11, 2022) and were displaced as a result of the invasion;
- Are a Ukrainian citizen and possess a valid Ukrainian passport (or are a child included on a parent’s passport);
- If not a Ukrainian citizen, they must be an immediate family member of a Ukrainian citizen beneficiary of Uniting for Ukraine with a valid passport;
- Have a supporter who filed a Form I-134A on their behalf that USCIS has vetted and confirmed as sufficient; and
- Clear biographic and biometric security checks.
Ukranians already in the United States are not eligible for this program, but they may be eligible for other programs, such as temporary protected status. Also, children traveling without their parents are not eligible.
If the the I-134A is deemed sufficient, USCIS will contact the Beneficiary, and the process for arranging parole to the U.S. will begin. The beneficiary needs to follow through within 90 days. The process is coordinated with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Work authorization is available to Ukranians paroled under the Uniting for Ukraine program. The usual filing fee is waived for the initial employment authorization document application. The agency encourages applicants to file their I-765 applications for work authorization online.
The rules on this program are subject to changes and the usual bureaucratic challenges. The information for this post is largely taken from USCIS’s website, and the same site should be reviewed regularly for updates.