Uniting for Ukraine program announces private US sponsorship for refugees

The program isn't a path to citizenship, but rather a temporary solution for up to two years.
UNITED STATES (KTRK) -- Uniting for Ukraine, part of the Biden administration's plan to allow as many as 100,000 Ukrainian refugees into the United States, is a program that allows private citizens to sponsor a Ukrainian refugee fleeing the country as a result of the Russian invasion.

The program went live on the Department of Homeland Security's website on Monday afternoon.

"It's based on our humanitarian parole pathway," said Curtis Ried, senior director of the National Security Council. "That (comes) with work authorization."

Americans hoping to sponsor a refugee need to apply through the DHS website. Potential sponsors must prove they're financially capable of providing aid and passing a strict background check.

Ukrainians looking to come to the U.S. under the program had to be residents of Ukraine as of Feb. 11, must already have a sponsor, and undergo background and health screenings.

All parties involved must be up-to-date on vaccinations, including the COVID-19 vaccine.

Uniting for Ukraine isn't a path to citizenship, but rather a temporary solution for up to two years.

"We really tried to engineer a program here that meets the needs of the Ukrainian population," said Ried. "They want to seek shelter somewhere and hope to go home to Ukraine soon."

Data from the United Nations shows over 5.2 million Ukrainians have fled the country since Feb. 24 with the majority going to neighboring Poland.

Ried didn't have an exact number of refugees coming to the United States but said many have come through the southwest border.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection report over 3,000 Ukrainian refugees were detained along the border in March.

As part of the Uniting for Ukraine program, those who try to enter the United States through Mexico without prior authorization will be denied entry and told to apply through this new initiative.

Anyone looking to sponsor a refugee needs to have the individual's name before applying.

Ried suggests talking to non-profits with ties to Ukraine if you want to connect with a refugee.

"(There are) many Ukrainian-American organizations looking to facilitate some of these matches," said Ried.

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