Uniting for Ukraine Program

Overview

On April 25, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security announced Uniting for Ukraine – a new program for allowing Ukrainians fleeing from the war to enter the United States on humanitarian parole. 

Humanitarian parole is a permission to enter the United States for humanitarian reasons, such as war. Humanitarian parole allows you to legally stay in the U.S. for the designated time period. With this status, you can are authorized to work, and your children can attend school.

Uniting for Ukraine sets up a process for Ukrainian nationals who have been displaced by Russia’s aggression to apply for lawful entry in the United States. 

First, a U.S.-based supporter must apply to the U.S. government pledging support for a Ukrainian national or family the supporter wants to invite in the U.S. Then, if the supporter’s application is sufficient, the Ukrainian beneficiaries may be allowed to arrive in the United States on humanitarian parole for a period of up to two years.


Who is Eligible for entry under Uniting for Ukraine

To be eligible for entry in the U.S., a person must:

  • Be a citizen of Ukraine and possess a valid Ukrainian passport (or be a child included in the parent’s passport);
    • A Ukrainian citizen may bring along immediate family members (spouse or common-law partner and unmarried children under the age of 21);
  • Have resided in Ukraine immediately prior to the Russian invasion, through Feb. 11, 2022, and have been displaced as a result of the invasion;
  • Have a supporter who filed a Form I-134a on their behalf that has been vetted and approved by the immigration service;
  • Clear biographic security checks.
Сhildren under the age of 18 must be traveling to the United States in the care and custody of their parent or legal guardian who is a citizen of Ukraine. Unaccompanied minors will not be admitted.

Where to Find a Supporter

Most Ukrainians applying for admission under Uniting for Ukraine intend to stay with their relatives or close friends in the U.S. who act as supporters and sign form I-134a.  If you do not have anyone in the U.S. who can be your supporter, you can search for a good Samaritan willing to be a supporter on the resources listed below. 

Mind your safety! Before giving away your passport details and accepting any offers of housing and/or a job, make sure the supporter is trustworthy and the offer is legitimate.

It does not cost any money for the supporter to file the form. If the supporter asks you for money in exchange for filing I-134a, this is likely a scam!

Keep in mind that a supporter is not obligated to give you housing or help you financially! Prepare to be responsible for your own living arrangements and finances. Have a Plan B if you relationship with your supporter fall apart – this happens very often!

Watch this video to prepare for your travel to the U.S.:


Who Can Be a Supporter

Any individual who has a lawful status in the United States, who has passed security and background vetting and demonstrated sufficient financial resources to receive and support the Ukrainian beneficiaries throughout the duration of their stay in the U.S. may become a supporter. This can be a U.S. citizen, a green-card holder, an asylee, a TPS holder, or a person on a long-term visa.

To start an application, the supporter must fill out online Form I-134a, Declaration of Financial Support, with USCIS. The supporter will then be vetted by the U.S. government to ensure that he or she is able to support the Ukrainian beneficiary. The program contemplates that a group of people or an organization may back an I-134a application; however, a natural person must sign the form. 

Supporting a Ukrainian beneficiary is a serious responsibility. The supporter pledges to the U.S. government that he or she is prepared to:

  • Receive the Ukrainian beneficiary upon their arrival in the U.S. and transport them to initial housing;
  • Ensure that the beneficiary has safe and appropriate housing for the duration of their parole and initial basic necessities;
  • As appropriate, help the beneficiary complete necessary paperwork for employment authorization, for a Social Security card, and other services;
  • Ensure that the beneficiary’s health care and medical needs are met for the duration of the parole; and
  • As appropriate, assist the beneficiary with accessing education, learning English, securing employment and enrolling children in school.
     

Form I-134a must be supported by evidence of the supporter’s financial sufficiency, including proof of income, letters from employers, tax returns, letters from banks, proof of liquid assets, and information about existing dependents and their income contribution.

If USCIS is satisfied with the supporter’s I-134a application, it will notify the Ukrainian beneficiary by email.

Prior to travel, the Ukrainian beneficiary must attest that they have completed vaccine requirements or are eligible for an exception to vaccine requirements for measles, polio, and the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Upon arrival in the U.S., the beneficiary must take an IGRA blood test for tuberculosis.

Webinar in English about how the supporter should fill out form I-134

For more details, see USCIS website.


Vaccination and TB Test Requirements

Persons arriving in the U.S. under the Uniting for Ukraine program must complete vaccination and TB blood test requirements within 90 days of arrival.

Vaccinations

You must fill out an attestation that you have received polio, measles and COVID-19 vaccines prior to travel to the United States. If you are not able to complete polio and COVID-19 vaccinations before arrival, they can be completed after your arrival to the United States. You do not need proof of COVID-19 vaccine to travel to the United States.

To obtain vaccination in the United States:

  • Vaccinations are covered by Medicaid or RMA health insurance which you can obtain upon arrival. Once you get your insurance card number, see your primary care physician and get a referral for a vaccine.
  • If you do not have health insurance, vaccinations are available at refugee clinics, state health department clinics or free and sliding scale fee clinics. See the Medical aid section to find a clinic near you.
  • Vaccinations can also be obtained at a local retail pharmacy (CVS, Walgreens, etc.).
    • Covid-19 vaccinations are free regardless of whether you have insurance

TB Test

  • You must take a tuberculosis blood test called QuantiFERON TB or IGRA within 90 days of arriving in the United States. 
  • You can obtain a TB test at your primary care office, urgent care, or diagnostic laboratory (such as Quest or LabCorp). If you need a doctor’s referral, you can obtain it from your primary care physician under your Medicaid or RMA insurance.
  • The test may be covered by your insurance. If you do not have health insurance, a test will cost between $80 and $200. Lower cost tests may be available at community clinics near you.
  • Keep the test results for your records. You must submit an attestation that you have completed the test to USCIS and indicate your result.
  • If your result comes back positive, you will be required to submit to an x-ray and possibly undergo a prophylactic treatment.
Can I forgo vaccination and TB testing requirements upon arrival?​

No! Follow all requirements of Uniting for Ukraine. If you fail to meet vaccination and testing requirements, you may have issues in future when seeking employment, pursuing education, or applying for a change of status.

Frequently Asked Questions

General
For Supporters
For Beneficiaries

Can Ukrainians apply for Uniting for Ukraine if they are already in the U.S.?

Uniting for Ukraine program is only for people outside of the United States who want to come to the U.S. If you are already inside the U.S., you may be eligible for other immigration options. Consult an immigration attorney.

What to do if an application I-134a was denied?

The most likely reason for denial is insufficient income of the supporter. The same supporter or a different supporter can apply again for the same beneficiary by filing a new form I-134a. The supporter and the beneficiary may need to jointly show additional resources in order to demonstrate enough financial support for the beneficiary. Occasionally, a supporter application may be denied because the supporter does not have an eligible immigration status.

What liability does a supporter have?

The supporter is not undertaking any legally-binding obligations by signing form I-134a, and thus cannot be sued for any expenses the beneficiary may incur while in the U.S. The purpose of form I-134a is to help make sure the beneficiary has a person to rely on in the U.S. for guidance as well as financial and housing support – to the extent the supporter agrees to provide it. By signing form I-134a, the supporter promises to “receive, maintain and support” the beneficiary to ensure that the beneficiary has financial resources to meet their basic necessities. Such “support” can (but does not have to) include direct financial support, as well as helping the beneficiary find employment or apply for welfare benefits the beneficiary is eligible for.

If you, as a supporter, are not comfortable with providing certain forms of support, do not pledge to provide them. State what you are willing to do.

Note: As of May 21, 2022, Additional Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2022 (AUSAA) makes Ukrainians admitted under the Uniting for Ukraine program eligible for refugee resettlement benefits, including cash assistance, food stamps and health insurance. See https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/documents/orr/PL-22-13-Ukrainian-Humanitarian-Parolees-Eligible-for-ORR-Benefits-and-Services.pdf and https://www.acf.hhs.gov/orr/fact-sheet/benefits-ukrainian-humanitarian-parolees.

What is the likelihood of enforcement of my financial aid attestation?

Form I-134a is not legally binding. It is used by the government to make sure the Ukrainian arrival has a person to rely on for advice and support in the United States.

Supporters should not commit to anything that makes them uncomfortable.

Is the supporter responsible for healthcare costs and premiums of the beneficiary?

No. Depending on income, beneficiaries under Uniting for Ukraine may be eligible for government-funded Medicaid or RMA health insurance. The supporter’s income does not count towards the beneficiary’s eligibility for this insurance or other benefits. If the beneficiary’s income makes them ineligible for Medicaid/RMA, the beneficiary may purchase a private health plan on the health insurance marketplace.

What is the minimum income a supporter needs to show?

USCIS uses the Federal poverty guidelines to determine if a supporter can financially support the number of beneficiaries they are applying for. USCIS takes into account both the supporter’s household size and the household size of the beneficiaries. Example: a family of four (parents and two kids) that files form I-134a for two beneficiaries (a mother and a child) would need to show income of $40,280 sufficient for 6 persons.

How do I demonstrate my income? What if I’m self-employed?

Income is judged by your federal income tax return. If you filed a 1040 or a 1040A, use your total income reflected on the form as guidance. The easiest way to find this number is to use line 9 on your completed 1040 tax return. If you filed a 1040EZ, list your adjusted gross income under income. Attach your tax return to form I-134a.

Do I need to list all my financial assets?

If you meet the income requirements, you likely do not need to list assets. If you do not meet income requirements, do list all of your financial assets as USCIS will take these into account when determining your eligibility to be a supporter.

Can my friend / spouse / church etc. and I sponsor someone together?

Yes. Multiple supporters may join together to support one or more Ukrainian beneficiaries. In this case, the primary supporter (a natural person) must sign form I-134a. The co-supporter should prepare a letter explaining what responsibility they are undertaking and attach the letter with evidence of co-supporter’s resources to the same form I-134a. The letter needs to state the identity of the co-supporter, their relationship to the main supporter, their intent to share responsibility, and resources the co-supporter is willing to dedicate to the beneficiary’s support.

Do I need to fill out a separate I-134a for each beneficiary?

Yes, if you are applying for more than one beneficiary, you need to submit a separate form I-134a for each person, even a child.

Am I eligible for Uniting for Ukraine if I wasn’t in Ukraine right before the war?

Only people who resided in Ukraine right before the war are eligible. If you traveled temporarily, for work or pleasure, but your home was in Ukraine, you are eligible. But if you lived in another country before the war, and not simply visited it as a tourist or on business, you may not be admitted at the U.S. border. The Customs and Border patrol officer will examine your passport and may interview you about your prior residence. There are many known cases where people were denied entry for this reason and had to fly back.

I am Ukrainian but my spouse/common-law partner is not. Do we both qualify for Uniting for Ukraine?

Yes. But your spouse or partner will only be able to receive Travel Authorization if they are added to your travel group and you submit vaccination attestations for both of you at the same time. Do not submit your vaccination attestations until you both received supporter approvals and are added in the same travel group!

Be prepared to provide evidence of a bona fide relationship, both with form I-134а and at the border, such as photos together, joint leases, joint bank accounts, birth certificates of common children, etc.

I am Ukrainian but my children are not. Can they come with me under Uniting for Ukraine?

Yes, if they are under 21 years old. Their supporter should indicate their relationship to you in the application forms, an you must add them to your travel group for vaccination attestations. Have the children’s translated birth certificates ready to prove the relation.

My children’s information is glued in my passport. Will they be admitted under Uniting for Ukraine?

Yes. If your children do not have passports of their own and are listed in your passport instead, they can still travel to the United States. Your supporter should indicate your passport number for each such child in their I-134a applications.

If a child travels with one parent, is written permission of the second parent required?

No.

Can a child travel with a relative who is not their parent?

No. The child under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. A legal guardian is a person appointed by the court when the parents are deceased or have given up their parental rights. A relative with a proxy form is not a legal guardian.

Can I bring my pet to the United States?

Yes, but you may need additional paperwork prepared in advance for your pet. For more information, see Traveling with Pets.

Do I need to provide copies of my passport and financial documents to the supporter?

No. The supporter needs your information such as your name, your date of birth, your passport number and expiration date, and information about your finances, but you can provide this information in a text or email without attaching copies of the documents. Do not provide photos of your documents to a supporter who is not your close friend or relative! Beware of identity theft!

How long is the wait-time for approval of form I-134a?

It varies from a few days to several weeks. If you’ve been waiting for a very long time, you can try applying again with the same or a different supporter.

I received a Travel Authorization valid for 90 days, but I need more time to prepare for travel. Can my Travel Authorization be extended?

Travel Authorization can be extended once for additional 90 days.

Your supporter must submit an extension request within the 30 days before or after your Travel Authorization’s expiration date by sending a message to USCIS through their USCIS online account (My Account > Inbox > New Message, select “A case already filed online” and enter receipt number for form I-134a). In the message, the supporter must state their continued interest in supporting you and request an extension of your travel authorization. You will receive a notification from USCIS when the decision is made.

What proof of vaccinations do I need under Uniting for Ukraine?

Under the Uniting for Ukraine program, you are not required to have any proof of vaccinations. You need to submit only an attestation that you have received the necessary vaccines. However, it’s a good idea to have your vaccination records intact for several reasons:

  • An airline may ask for your proof of the COVID-19 vaccine;
  • Your children will be required to provide vaccination records at school;
  • If you ever become eligible for a green card, you will need to submit a vaccination record to USCIS.

If you or your children do not have their vaccination records, you will be able to receive the vaccines in the U.S. or restore your vaccination history by blood antibody tests.

Can I take my medicine with me to the United States?

Yes. Medicine for personal use is allowed and should not cause any problem. If you take any essential medication, bring several months’ supply with you as it may take time to apply for health insurance and get a new prescription in the U.S.

Can I fly to a different state than that where my supporter lives?

Yes. You are not required to live in the same state as your supporter. Be prepared to provide your address of stay at the border – if you do not have permanent housing secured, this can be a motel or Airbnb.

What documents will I be asked to present at the border?

You will have to show your passport, Travel Authorization and provide the address of your stay in the U.S. It is a good idea to also have the address and phone number of your supporter handy.

What assistance can I count on in the United States?

Ukrainians arriving under Uniting for Ukraine are entitled to limited welfare assistance, such as free health insurance, food money and some cash assistance for basic necessities. See Welfare Aid for more info. You will also be permitted to work and are encouraged to get employed as soon as possible.

Be mindful that housing assistance is generally not provided, and cash assistance you may receive will not be enough to rent an apartment or even a room. You need to have savings sufficient to rent short-term housing for your family for the first few months until you find a stable job. If your relatives, friends or supporter offer you housing, have a plan B if the relationship sours and they ask you to move out!

Am I eligible for a green card after arriving under Uniting for Ukraine?

Generally, no. Uniting for Ukraine is meant to be a temporary program to allow people to escape the war. However, some people may be eligible for an adjustment of status based on personal circumstances such as:

  • an application for asylum based on personal persecution in Ukraine;
  • marriage to a U.S. citizen or green card holder; or
  • re-uniting with close relatives who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

To find out if any of these options are available to you, speak with an immigration attorney.

Can I apply for asylum after arriving under Uniting for Ukraine?

Yes. However, the United States grants asylum only to those applicants who are personally persecuted by the government in their country based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group, or experienced torture. Fleeing war is generally not a reason for asylum.

What if I need to depart the United States temporarily or permanently?

Generally, admission under Uniting for Ukraine is a one-time admission. You may leave the United States at any time, but you will not be allowed back under your original Travel Authorization, and you will likely be denied a new one.

If you have emergency reasons for temporary travel, such as illness or death of a close relative, you must first obtain a permission to return from USCIS called advance parole. You will need to provide evidence of the emergency such as proof of your relationship to the person and any medical or coroner records.