3:25 PM PDT, June 3, 2022
Due to the Uniting for Ukraine program, more than 45,000 Americans have submitted applications to sponsor Ukrainians displaced by the war, according to data from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Since April 25, more than 6,500 Ukrainians have arrived in the U.S. under the Uniting for Ukraine program — the country’s largest private sponsorship program for refugees in decades.
U.S. immigration officials have also authorized the travel of 27,000 additional Ukrainians identified by American sponsors, according to CBS News.
Previously, those seeking refuge from war have been resettled in the U.S. through nine resettlement organizations that receive funding from the federal government. These organizations help refugees access basic necessities and services, including housing, food and employment.
The U.S. government is shifting this process through the Uniting for Ukraine program by enabling regular community members and groups to directly finance the Ukrainians that have been displaced.
“I think this is a great case study for what is possible when the United States government gives the option for individuals and community groups to step forward and directly resettle refugees,” Matthew La Corte, an immigration policy analyst at the Niskanen Center told CBS News.
According to data from the DHS, about 15%, of those who have filed sponsor requests live in the New York metropolitan area. The other regions with the highest prospective sponsor percentages are Chicago, Seattle, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Miami, Washington, Sacramento, Portland, and Cleveland.
According to CBS, about 300 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) employees have been trained on reviewing Ukrainian sponsorship cases, with around 50 of them working on the applications at any given time, according to the DHS.
The process for potential sponsors includes submitting an application online, the USCIS examining their financial status, household size, and the number of individuals they wish to sponsor.
Then come the background checks, and if USCIS approves their sponsorship bid, the potential Ukrainian refugees are allowed to upload their information to the agency’s website. After passing background checks, the Ukrainians are given the green light to travel to the U.S.
A difference with this program is that instead of being approved for refugee status — which offers a path to permanent residency — Ukrainians approved through Uniting for Ukraine will be processed under a humanitarian policy known as parole, which allows them to live and work in the U.S. for two years.
The program, in addition to expected arrivals and other border admissions, could allow the U.S. to receive over half of the 100,000 Ukrainian refugees President Biden committed to welcoming within the next few months.