Chris Lange, FISM News
President Biden is expected to announce a new “streamlined process” to welcome Ukrainian refugees into the U.S. today. The program, called “Uniting for Ukraine,” will provide Ukrainians fleeing the war-torn country with speedy visa processing at consular posts overseas and increased refugee resettlement processing, according to a Department of Homeland Security press release. The program will be administered by the DHS.
“We are proud to deliver on President Biden’s commitment to welcome 100,000 Ukrainians and others fleeing Russian aggression to the United States,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “DHS will continue to provide relief to the Ukrainian people, while supporting our European allies who have shouldered so much as the result of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.”
Ukrainians who want to apply for humanitarian parole in the U.S. must meet certain eligibility requirements, including proof of vaccinations and “other health requirements” which were not specified in the release. They must also pass “rigorous biometric and biography screening and vetting security checks.” Once cleared, the refugees will be authorized to travel to the U.S. and apply for work authorization.
“Uniting for Ukraine” is set to go live on the DHS website Monday. There, Americans or U.S.-based entities can apply to sponsor refugees. Sponsors will be required to undergo background checks “to protect against exploitation and abuse” and also declare financial support for the refugee(s) they wish to sponsor.
“Any U.S. citizen or individual, including representatives of non-government organizations, can sponsor Ukrainian applicants,” the DHS said.
Sponsorship applicants must also show proof of “required vaccinations” and “other public health requirements,” as well as undergo “biographic and biometric screening, vetting, and security checks,” though no further details are provided.
“The U.S. government is working with European partners to ensure Ukrainians can meet the vaccination requirements of Uniting for Ukraine,” the release states, adding that the collective is working to “expand access to existing legal pathways for Ukrainian citizens.”
The DHS is advising Ukrainians not to seek entry at the U.S.-Mexico border, where a massive surge of migrants is already expected in the coming weeks as a result of the Biden administration’s repeal of Title 42 migrant health requirements.
Thousands of Ukrainians have already entered the United States at the southern border, though only 12 came through the U.S. refugee program, according to Reuters. Since April 10, an average of about 1,000 Ukrainians have tried to cross the southern border every day. It is unclear how many of these migrants were able to enter the country.
“Following the launch of Uniting for Ukraine, Ukrainians who present at land U.S. ports of entry without a valid visa or without pre-authorization to travel to the United States through Uniting for Ukraine will be denied entry and referred to apply through this program,” the DHS said.
The U.S. has earmarked over $1 billion in humanitarian assistance funding “for those affected by Russia’s war in Ukraine and its severe impacts around the world,” according to the release.