By Jon Taets
ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Last week, President Biden announced a new program through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) called “United for Ukraine,” which allows U.S. citizens, businesses and non-profits to apply to sponsor Ukrainian nationals for entry into the United States.
The program was pitched to NACS during a meeting between NACS staff and Cass Sunstein, a senior counselor at DHS who has been tasked with overseeing and coordinating immigration rulemakings within the department. The meeting was the second between NACS, Sunstein and other DHS staff, as the NACS government relations team continues to work with DHS to find more workers for the convenience retailing industry.
Uniting for Ukraine will provide an opportunity for Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion to obtain a two-year work authorization immediately in the U.S. Any U.S. citizen, business or nonprofit can sponsor a Ukrainian citizen, provided they prove financial support for the Ukrainian and pass a security background check aimed at preventing exploitation or abuse.
“Uniting for Ukraine is a streamlined process for Ukrainian citizens who have been displaced by Russia’s aggression to apply for humanitarian parole in the United States,” said DHS in a press release.
To be eligible, Ukrainians must have been residents in Ukraine as of February 11, 2022, have a sponsor in the United States, complete vaccinations and other public health requirements, and pass rigorous biometric and biographic screening and vetting security checks. Ukrainians approved via this process will be authorized to travel to the United States and be considered for parole, on a case-by-case basis, for a period of up to two years. Once paroled through this process, Ukrainians will be eligible for work authorization.
Sunstein also informed NACS that DHS is expecting to release a new temporary final rule for the H-2B visa program providing for an additional 35,000 H-2B visas this year, of which they expect at least several hundred to be Ukrainian citizens. NACS will provide updates on these programs via the NACS Daily and NACS social media channels.
Here is more information on the United for Ukraine program and how to apply.
Jon Taets is NACS director of government relations. He can be reached at email@example.com.