WASHINGTON – In conjunction with the April 21 rollout of the U.S. government’s Uniting for Ukraine program that will bring 100,000 displaced persons from Ukraine to the United States, the non-governmental organization Welcome.US convened nation-wide online meetings to explain the important role sponsors will play in the program.
Those sponsors, an essential element of the humanitarian parole program, are needed for the successful resettlement of displaced persons.
The humanitarian parole program Uniting for Ukraine is granting participants in the program stays of two years in the U.S. The program gives participants the possibility of employment, but it does not offer a path to citizenship. After two years in the U.S., the expectation is that individuals will be able to return to their home country.
The Welcome.US national online meetings, held April 21-25, included more than 100 participants, including representatives of the Ukrainian National Association (UNA) and the broader Ukrainian American community. From the UNA, members of the Welcome Council include UNA Advisor Irene Jarosewich and National Secretary and Chief Operating Officer Yuriy Symczyk.
The sponsor application process, which opened on April 25, and the vetting of sponsors and the displaced persons that sponsors have agreed to support, will be conducted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through the office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
However, after the government approves the applications, the actual in-country settlement of the 100,000 refugees will be coordinated with the help of Welcome.US in partnership with national and local community organizations. Welcome.US is recognized as the U.S. government civic partner that will help facilitate implementation of the Uniting for Ukraine program.
Welcome.US has identified the following four steps in the Uniting for Ukraine humanitarian parole process:
First, unite: A sponsor in the U.S. identifies a beneficiary, and connects with the beneficiary, who is currently overseas. A beneficiary is a displaced person who has fled Ukraine. That person can be a family member, a friend or a recommended individual. A U.S.-based sponsor may be an individual, a group of individuals or an organization. The sponsor, in effect, will be responsible for applying on behalf of the beneficiary. Therefore, a great deal of personal data about the beneficiary (displaced person) must be obtained prior to completing the application (Form I-134). Sponsors should review the application prior to contacting the beneficiary to understand which information is required. The sponsor, in effect, claims that, through their sponsorship, the named beneficiary will have financial support after coming to the U.S., since beneficiaries arriving under humanitarian parole largely do not qualify for U.S. government support. After a sponsor and beneficiary unite and can confirm that both parties are ready, the applications process can begin.
Second, apply: The sponsor applies through the DHS (dhs.gov/ukraine) and identifies the beneficiary. The application must be approved by the DHS for the beneficiary to be granted humanitarian parole. The deadline for submitting an application is October 31.
Third, welcome: Once beneficiary and sponsor are vetted and approved, the sponsor welcomes their beneficiary into the community by providing housing, transportation, school registration for children and other immediate and essential services, as well as other necessary connections to organizations and institutions that can welcome the newcomer. Volunteers may work with a sponsor to ensure robust support for the beneficiary.
Four, ongoing support: A sponsor and beneficiary continue to work together to ensure that social networking, medical care and language assistance is provided during the beneficiary’s two-year stay, all while opportunities for the beneficiary to return home are continually explored.
Be a welcomer
Welcome.US established a campaign called “Be a Welcomer” to provide detailed information about the Uniting for Ukraine program. That campaign provides information about sponsors’ responsibilities and opportunities to donate to help in support of a beneficiary. Methods to volunteer to ensure a beneficiary’s successful resettlement can be found on the Welcome.US website, https://ukraine.welcome.us. Answers to frequently asked questions can be found at https://ukraine.welcome.us/explainer.
When joining the Welcome Council, His Eminence Metropolitan Antony of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A. said, “The loss of human life, the destruction of the infrastructure of major Ukrainian cities can be defined not only as a crime against the peace-loving people of Ukraine, but against all of humanity. The UOC of the U.S.A. firmly believes that the United States of America can be a safe haven for Ukrainians during this time of war. The Church is excited to partner with Welcome.US and enable Americans to provide help and assistance to those in need. The hope is to build true cooperation across communities in order to build a durable capacity and ability to welcome refugees from Ukraine to the United States.”
Another member of the Welcome Council, Metropolitan Borys Gudziak of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, said, “We encourage the American government to make use of Ukrainian NGOs, and particularly the Church, to distribute aid, thereby cutting down on bureaucracy and administrative expenses. Ukrainian Churches, religious organizations and Ukrainian society are standing together in solidarity, ready to support both those who have fled Ukraine and those who have stayed behind. We welcome the reception of refugees by the United States as a win-win, both for the homeless lovers of freedom as well as for America. We call on all Americans to become welcomers. The combined prayers, clarity and assistance of the world can turn this crisis into a historical global turning point.”