On April 21, 2022, the U.S. administration announced a crucial step toward fulfilling President Biden’s promise to welcome Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion. A special program has been set up to make it easier for the recipients. The program is called Uniting for Ukraine. It allows Ukrainian citizens displaced by the ongoing war and their immediate family members outside the United States to come and stay temporarily in the United States for a two-year humanitarian parole period and obtain work authorization.
Statements demonstrating U.S. commitment to rescue Ukrainian refugees
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued this statement, “We are proud to fulfill President Biden’s commitment to welcome 100,000 Ukrainians and others fleeing Russian aggression to the United States.” Secretary of State Anthony Blinken also added this one, “We will help honor the President’s commitment to welcome 100,000 Ukrainian citizens and others forced to flee their homes in Ukraine, and our partnership with the Department of Homeland Security will help us fulfill that commitment.”
These statements reflect a strong desire by the U.S. government to reach out to the citizens of the Ukrainian people in humanitarian distress. They have been materialized in the creation of a special program called Uniting for Ukraine, which aims to help displaced persons and their families settle in the United States for at least two years.
What are the requirements for participation in this program for Ukrainian citizens?
There are three conditions that must be met:
1.) Ukrainians participating in Uniting for Ukraine must have a sponsor in the United States.
2.) The sponsor living in the United States must file an I-134 form with USCIS, which means that the sponsor agrees to provide financial support to the beneficiaries for the duration of their stay in the United States. The beneficiaries will also be allowed to apply for discretionary employment authorization with USCIS.
3.) Finally, the U.S. government will review the profile of the sponsoring supporter to protect against exploitation and abuse, and to also ensure that they are able to financially support the person they agree to sponsor.
Who can support a beneficiary under the Uniting for Ukraine program?
Supporters who file Form I-134 on behalf of a beneficiary under Uniting for Ukraine must be lawfully in the United States or on parole or a Deferred Action or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) beneficiary and willing and able to receive, maintain, and support the beneficiary listed on the Form I-134.
Examples of the types of beneficiary support that supporters should keep in mind when assessing their ability to meet this commitment include:
- Greeting the beneficiary upon arrival in the U.S. and transporting the beneficiary to the initial housing;
- Ensure that the beneficiary has safe and appropriate housing for the duration of parole and basic necessities;
- Where appropriate, assisting the beneficiary in completing necessary paperwork such as employment authorization, social security card, and services for which he/she may be eligible;
- Ensure that the recipient’s health care and medical needs are met throughout the term of parole; and
- Where appropriate, assist the beneficiary in accessing education, learning English, finding a job, and enrolling children in school.
How should a sponsor complete the I-134 form for the benefit of a beneficiary?
Sponsors will be required to include the names of the beneficiaries on the I-134 form. They may not file a Form I-134 on behalf of an unnamed beneficiary. A caregiver may agree to support more than one beneficiary, such as for different members of a family group, but must file a separate Form I-134 for each beneficiary.
At least one Form I-134 must be completed for each beneficiary. It is possible for several supporters to join together to support a recipient. In this case, a supporter must file a Form I-134 and include in the file additional evidence demonstrating the identity and resources to be provided by the additional supporters and attach a statement explaining the intent to share responsibility for supporting the recipient. The ability of these supporters to accompany a beneficiary, will be collectively assessed.
The Form I-134 requires an individual to sign the form; organizations may not serve as named support on a Form I-134. However, if an organization or other entity provides financial or other services to the recipient for the purpose of facilitating support, this information must be provided as part of the evidence submitted with the Form I-134 and will be considered in determining the ability of the support to support the recipient.
Frequently Asked Questions
We bring some clarifications for specific questions.
#How do you apply through Uniting for Ukraine if you already have an I-131 pending?
If you have already filed a Form I-131, Application for a Travel Document, for humanitarian parole on behalf of a Ukrainian who is outside the United States, you may
either withdraw your pending Form I-131 or leave your pending Form I-131 with USCIS. Whether you withdraw your Form I-131 will not impact your ability to file a Form I-134 on behalf of the same person under Uniting for Ukraine.
If you wish to withdraw your pending I-131 form, you are entitled to a fee refund.
If you choose to keep your Form I-131 on hold, we will retain the fee and decide in the future.
If you wish to provide support to a Ukrainian beneficiary through the Ukraine Unification process, you must file a new Form I-134, Statement of Financial Support, even if you have already submitted a Form I-134, Affidavit of Support, with your pending Form I-131. On April 25, 2022, Form I-134 was updated from the Affidavit of Support to the Statement of Financial Support, which is used to unite for Ukraine.
#Can a beneficiary enter the U.S. by land without going through the Uniting for Ukraine program?
Ukrainians who present themselves at U.S. land ports of entry without a valid visa or prior authorization to travel to the U.S. via Uniting for Ukraine may be denied entry and referred to apply through this program.
Need help applying to the Uniting for Ukraine program?
If you would like assistance with the enrollment process either as a sponsor or as a beneficiary, please feel free to schedule a consultation with one of Herman Legal Group‘s experienced immigration attorneys by calling 1-800-808-4013 or 1-216-696-6170, or by booking online. Consultations can be conducted via zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, facetime, or in the office.