by Jennifer Grady, Esq.
On April 21, 2022, the United States announced a key step toward fulfilling President Biden’s commitment to welcome Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s invasion. "Uniting for Ukraine" provides a pathway for Ukrainian citizens and their immediate family members who are outside the United States to come to the United States and stay temporarily in a two-year period of parole (not a visa). Ukrainians participating in Uniting for Ukraine must have a supporter in the United States who agrees to provide them with financial support for the duration of their stay in the United States.
The first step in the Uniting for Ukraine process is for the U.S.-based supporter to file a declaration of financial support with USCIS. The U.S. government will then vet the supporter to ensure that they are able to financially support the individual whom they agree to support.
This process enables approved Ukrainians to travel to the United States, be considered for parole for a period of up to 2 years, and be eligible to apply for employment authorization while in the United States. The United States strongly encourages Ukrainians in Europe who seek to travel to the United States to complete the request from Europe. Ukrainians who present at U.S. land ports of entry without a valid visa or without pre-authorization to travel to the United States through Uniting for Ukraine may be denied entry and referred to apply through this process.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE?
The Ukrainian citizen (or their non-Ukrainian immediate family member) who is outside the United States and who may be considered for parole under Uniting for Ukraine is the "Beneficiary."
Immediate family members in this process include:
The spouse or common-law partner of a Ukrainian citizen; and
Their unmarried children under the age of 21.
NOTE: If a child is under 18, they must be traveling with a parent or legal guardian in order to use this process.
Who Can Be a Financial Sponsor?
An individual who holds lawful status in the United States or is a parolee or beneficiary of deferred action or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) who has passed security and background vetting and demonstrated sufficient financial resources to receive, maintain, and supports the individuals whom they commit to support for the duration of their stay in the United States.
Examples of individuals who meet the supporter requirement include:
U.S. citizens and nationals;
Lawful permanent residents, lawful temporary residents, and conditional permanent residents;
Nonimmigrants in lawful status (that is, who maintain the nonimmigrant status and have not violated any of the terms or conditions of the nonimmigrant status);
Asylees, refugees, and parolees;
TPS holders; and
Beneficiaries of deferred action (including DACA) or Deferred Enforced Departure.
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-134 on their behalf that USCIS has vetted and confirmed as sufficient; and
Clear biographic and biometric security checks;
Note: To be eligible for this process, children under the age of 18 must be traveling to the United States in the care and custody of their parent or legal guardian.
The supporter must complete and file a declaration of support with USCIS and be vetted by the U.S. government to protect against exploitation and abuse, and ensure that they are able to financially support the Ukrainians they are agreeing to support.
Who Is Not Eligible for Parole Under Uniting for Ukraine?
Ukrainian citizens who are already present in the United States will not be considered for parole under Uniting for Ukraine. However, Ukrainian citizens present in the United States may be eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). For more information, please see our Temporary Protected Status for Ukrainians in the United States blog.
Children traveling without their parent or legal guardian are not eligible for parole under Uniting for Ukraine.
Upon arrival at a U.S. port of entry, a child who is not traveling with their parent or legal guardian may be placed in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as required by law under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA), to protect the child from human trafficking and other forms of exploitation.
Sponsors must be willing and able to receive, maintain, and support the beneficiary for the duration of their stay in the U.S. Examples of the types of support for beneficiaries that supporters should keep in mind when considering their ability to meet this commitment include:
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 for employment authorization, 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.
Once the Ukrainian beneficiary has confirmed their biographic information and attested to completing all other requirements, their case will be further processed. Ukrainians will receive an email instructing them to check their myUSCIS account for the result of their authorization to travel. If the individual has been authorized to travel to the United States to seek parole under Uniting for Ukraine, they will be responsible for arranging and funding their own travel. This authorization is valid for 90 days.
If you have already been paroled into the United States, your parole will automatically be terminated if:
You depart the United States without obtaining advance authorization to travel; or
Your parole period expires.
DHS may also decide to terminate your parole for other reasons, such as violating any laws of the United States. Individuals with expired parole are expected to depart the country of their own accord. Individuals in the United States encountered after their parole has terminated may be referred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for immigration proceedings.
We do not want you to become the victim of an immigration scam. If you need legal advice on immigration matters, make sure the person helping you is authorized to give legal advice. Only an attorney or accredited representative working for a Department of Justice recognized organization can give you legal advice. Visit the Avoid Scams page for information and resources.
If you are interested in sponsoring a Ukrainian national, or are a Ukrainian national abroad who has identified a sponsor, schedule a call with us to determine whether you are eligible. Please contact our office at email@example.com, or call us at (949) 798-6298. You can also schedule a call directly on our website.
The Grady Firm works with dynamic employers and employees across the country to prepare successful employment-based visa and Green Card applications. In addition, we help individuals, families, employees, business owners, and investors obtain non-immigrant and immigrant visas (B-1/B2, H-1B, H-2B, L-1A, L-1B, O-1, TN, E-2, E-3), as well and Green Cards and citizenship based on family relationships, investment, or employment.
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This article is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. This article does not make any guarantees as to the outcome of a particular matter, as each matter has its own set of circumstances and must be evaluated individually by a licensed attorney.