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US Begins Uniting for Ukraine Program to Take in Refugees

Uniting for Ukraine programIn April 2022, the U.S. government began the Uniting for Ukraine program. This allows Ukrainians with financial sponsorship to temporarily live in the United States and take refuge from ongoing war conditions. This program covers those who lived in Ukraine when the war began and fled to other countries. Applicants must have a supporter in the United States who will “agree to provide them with financial support for the duration of their stay in the [country].”

About the Program

In addition to financial sponsorship, the Uniting for Ukraine program guarantees the right to work and residence for up to two years according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. While U.S. President Biden promised protection for 100,000 Ukrainians through this program, the actual number of Ukrainians supported will depend on the number of willing financial sponsors in the United States.

Applicants must be Ukrainian citizens or immediate family members of a Ukrainian citizen who is applying to the program. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services states that children without a legal guardian cannot apply for this program, but may apply for a separate parole process if they have a parent or guardian already in the United States.

One limitation is that individuals seeking sanctuary must cover for their own travel costs to the United States. However, there is a 90-day grace period to travel after an application has been authorized.

War Struggles

The current economic situation in Ukraine is dire. In March 2022, the UNDP projected that “90% of the Ukrainian population could be facing poverty” over the course of a year if the Russian invasion continued. Although the United Nations is doing its best to help, the damage inflicted on Ukraine can be measured in hundreds of billions of dollars and will continue to rise as the war continues.

The number of Ukrainians forced to leave their home country is equally dramatic. In 2020, the population of Ukraine was 44.13 million. As of August 18, the UNHCR recorded 6,657,918 Ukrainian refugees. This means at least 13.6% of the country’s population was forced to flee elsewhere with the majority moving to the neighboring countries of Russia and Poland.

And of these refugees, 3.74 million of them are registered under the European Union’s Temporary Protection Directive, which provides benefits such as housing, the right to work and health care.

Support From Overseas

While the Uniting for Ukraine program is not as comprehensive as the EU directive, it still acts as a way for the United States to aid Ukrainians who would otherwise be suffering. This program hopefully signals that the U.S. will provide more direct support to refugees in the future. For now, U.S. residents willing and able to be a supporter can find the relevant form on the Citizenship and Immigration Services website.

– Henry Bauer
Photo: WikiCommons