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Uniting for Ukraine Program : How To Apply

Posted on December 7, 2022
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By Danielle Streetenberger

Developed in April 2022, the Uniting for Ukraine program aims to help Ukrainians flee from Russian invasion and find refuge in the United States. This program allows Ukrainian citizens to seek temporary parole in the United States for up to two years and will enable individuals the opportunity to apply for employment authorization. However, under this parole program, you cannot directly apply for this process. You must have a supporter in the United States willing to provide financial assistance for you or your family. 

Uniting for Ukraine Program: Sponsor Eligibility

An individual is eligible to sponsor a Ukrainian national if they are:

  • Citizen or national of the United States.
  • A lawful permanent resident (LPR), lawful temporary resident (LTR), or conditional permanent resident (CPR).
  • A nonimmigrant in legal status that has not committed any violations of that status, including parolees, refugees, asylees, those who hold temporary protected status (TPS), recipients of Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).

Uniting for Ukraine Program: Beneficiary Eligibility

An individual is eligible to become a Ukrainian beneficiary if they:

  • Previously lived in Ukraine prior to the Russian invasion through February 11, 2022, and were forced to relocate due to the invasion.
  • Are a Ukrainian citizen living abroad or an immediate family member. Immediate family members may include a spouse, partner, or child under the age of 21 of a Ukrainian citizen. Every family member must possess a valid passport, and any children under 18 are required to travel with a legal parent or guardian.
  • Have a sponsor who has filed Form I-134, Declaration of Financial Support and submitted all necessary documentation to prove that they can financially provide for the beneficiary, verified and confirmed as adequate by USCIS, and completed clear biographic and biometric screenings.
  • Completed all vaccination requirements
  • Passed the background check

Uniting for Ukraine Application Process

To apply for the Uniting for Ukraine Program, your sponsor must fill out Form I-134, Declaration of Financial Support. Your sponsor must fill out the form for each individual they are willing to support. From there, your sponsor will participate in a series of background checks and submit any necessary documentation to prove they can accommodate a parolee.

Following the submission of Form I-134, USCIS will evaluate the form and supporting evidence and determine whether the sponsor is financially capable of supporting the Ukrainian beneficiary throughout the parole period. Following the review of Form I-134, U.S. Customs and Immigration Services will notify the beneficiary of the next steps.

To determine whether Form I-134 is adequate, USCIS may request further documentation. If approved, Ukrainian beneficiaries can expect an email from USCIS instructing them on how to create an account with myUSCIS and how to proceed. The individual must ensure their biographic information on myUSCIS is accurate and complies with all requirements. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will review and consider parole and authorization to travel to the United States. 

As part of these requirements, Uniting for Ukraine requires an attestation stating that you understand and have completed the family relationship requirements for children under 18 and that you have completed the vaccine requirements.

If you are a Ukrainian national who is residing in Europe, USCIS recommends that you complete the application process from Europe. If you arrive at a U.S. land port of entry without a valid visa or pre-authorization to travel, you may be denied entrance and invited to apply through the Uniting for Ukraine program. 

Upon approval of parole, you may apply for discretionary employment authorization via USCIS using Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. The employment authorization application fee may be waived, but to do so, your sponsor must apply by mail.

If Form I-134 is found inadequate, USCIS will notify the beneficiary via email, and the beneficiary and supporter will no longer be allowed to proceed. Although supporters can file a new Form I-134 for the same beneficiary, or another supporter may file a Form I-134 on behalf of the Ukrainian beneficiary.

Pending Request for Parole: Form I-131, Application for Travel Document

For Ukrainian citizens who have already submitted a parole request via Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, but prefer to apply for parole by Uniting for Ukraine instead, their supporters must submit Form I-134 following these instructions.

As a result of the new Uniting for Ukraine process, USCIS will provide supporters with a pending Form I-131 filed on behalf of a Ukrainian beneficiary with a notice explaining the steps required to apply for parole under Uniting for Ukraine. More information regarding the withdrawal of Form I-131 will also be available if the beneficiary and supporter decide to withdraw their initial parole request.

You may have a higher likelihood of obtaining humanitarian parole through Uniting for Ukraine. USCIS will issue a refund if you have already paid your processing fee for your Form I-131. You are not required to pay a fee to apply for parole through the Uniting for Ukraine program.

Even if you have already submitted a prior Form I-134, Declaration of Financial Support, with your pending Form I-131, you must file a new Form I-134 under the Uniting for Ukraine program.

Uniting for Ukraine authorizes individuals to travel to the United States to seek parole, but the individual is responsible for financing and arranging their trip. Travel authorization for a beneficiary is effective for 90 days. After the beneficiary has confirmed their biographical information and verified they had met the remaining requirements, their case will proceed. Upon receiving an email from USCIS, beneficiaries will be instructed to visit their myUSCIS account to verify their travel authorization status.

Uniting for Ukraine and Children Traveling Alone

Ukrainian children who are unable to travel with a parent or legal guardian are ineligible to apply for the Uniting for Ukraine program. However, Ukrainian children planning to meet their legal guardian or parent in the United States can apply for parole via Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.

Children must get permission from their parent or legal guardian under Form I-131 parole requirements to travel to the United States alone. Sponsors supporting a child traveling alone from Ukraine can obtain a fee waiver using Form I-192, Request for Fee Waiver.   

To support Form I-131, the child's sponsor must provide evidence regarding the duration of their stay in the United States and a statement detailing the child's relation to the parent or legal guardian. In this statement, they should indicate whether they will provide care and custody for the child once they arrive in the United States or reconnect the child with their parent or legal guardian. 

To obtain written permission, the legal guardian must provide proof of legal guardianship issued by a government agency. If there are multiple children, such as siblings, within a family, the sponsor must file a separate Form I-134 for each beneficiary.

Uniting for Ukraine Program How to Apply FAQs: 

Can a Ukrainian apply for asylum in the United States?

Yes, Ukrainian citizens can apply for asylum in the United States and, if approved, can even have the opportunity to apply for a green card and obtain lawful permanent residence (LPR). Ukrainians are allowed to apply for asylum within one-year of their arrival to the United States. Approval of Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, depends on the individual and their fear of persecution. To qualify, you must demonstrate that you are suffering from persecution or fear that you will be persecuted by the government or another entity. Persecution can include being targeted against your religion, race, nationality, political affiliation or membership in a particular social group. If you believe you are eligible to apply for asylum, we recommend that you reach out to an attorney for further guidance regarding your case.

Can Ukrainians apply for Uniting for Ukraine after entering the United States?

Yes, Ukrainians can apply for Uniting for Ukraine after entering the United States. However, we recommend that you file your request remotely, from Europe. Entry may be denied to Ukrainians who attempt to enter the country without a valid visa or travel authorization issued by the Uniting for Ukraine program.

What can I do if USCIS denies a Uniting for Ukraine application?

If USCIS denies your Uniting for Ukraine application, you can no longer proceed with the same application. However, your sponsor is allowed to file a new form I-134 on behalf of the same Ukrainian beneficiary or a different beneficiary, such as a family member.

How long can Ukrainians stay in the U.S. under Uniting for Ukraine?

Ukrainians can reside in the United States under the Uniting for Ukraine Program for up to two years. If accepted, Ukrainian parolees can apply for employment authorization and earn an income while residing in the United States.

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