MISSOULA - The U.S. is looking for ways to help as the turmoil in Ukraine continues, and that includes on a local level in Montana.
President Joe Biden released “Uniting for Ukraine (U4U)” on April 25 which is an added effort to welcome up to 100,000 refugees to the states.
With many Ukrainians wanting to stay close to their home country, the US hasn’t seen as many refugees as Ukraine’s neighboring countries.
The current numbers show over 5 million people have fled Ukraine.
With the sound of war cries still hanging over Ukraine, the Biden Administration has put out a new way of “Uniting for Ukraine.”
“This is pretty unprecedented in the world of US immigration law,” said Randall Caudle, a Montana Immigration Attroney.
The program allows people legally residing in the US to financially sponsor Ukrainians fleeing the country for up to two years.
“People in the U.S. to sponsor, be supporters is the technical term that immigration is using, of Ukrainians,” Caudle told MTN News.
Caudle explained who can sponsor refugees saying, "so, asylees, DACA recipients, TPS recipients. So Ukrainians that get temporary protected status can then sponsor other Ukrainians."
Theoretically, a Ukrainian does not have to know or be related to their sponsor in America.
As long as the sponsor can show they are in the states legally, then they can sponsor a Ukrainian and apply for U4U.
Ukrainians are eligible for the program:
- Resided in Ukraine immediately prior to the Russian invasion (until 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), or are a non-Ukrainian immediate family member of a Ukrainian citizen who is applying through Uniting for Ukraine.
- Have a supporter who filed a Form I-134, Declaration of Financial Support, on their behalf that has been confirmed as sufficient by USCIS.
Once approved, which includes a vetting process for both parties involved, humanitarian parolees have 90 days to come to the US.
Once in the US, it is up to the sponsor to help get work permits, housing and medical squared away.
Because parolees coming in on the U4U program have a sponsor, they will not be eligible for certain government benefits that Ukrainians with refugee status have.
The program is in effect, and we are already seeing it at US borders.
“Ukrainians presenting themselves at either the Mexican or Canadian border are not going to be let in," Caudle told MTN News. "They're going to be told to apply for U4U.”