USA and the UK
Where Can Refugees Go?
Due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, more than 3 million people have fled the besieged country in the first 3 weeks of the conflict. The refugees mostly consist of women, children, and the elderly who have not been conscripted to fight. The refugee displacement is the largest in Europe since World War II has caused a global outcry from countries all over the world.
Most Ukrainian nationals fleeing the conflict have gone to neighboring Eastern European countries such as Poland, Hungary, Moldova, Slovakia, and Romania as they wish to remain in Europe and closer to their home country where they hope to return and to family members who remain in Ukraine to fight against the Russian invasion.
To help Ukrainian refugees displaced by the violence and destruction, the European Union authorized a Temporary Protective Directive for Ukrainian nationals on March 4th. This directive provides short-term residency and work authorization in all 27 EU member states for Ukrainian nationals for up to a year with the possibility of extension.
To aid in the cause, other countries such as the UK and Canada have created private sponsorship programs to help Ukrainian refugees relocate.
What is the U.S. Doing to Help Ukrainian Refugees?
Although President Biden has expressed concern for the people of Ukraine and hopes to welcome Ukrainian refugees with ‘open arms’, it still remains highly unlikely that the United States will welcome a substantial portion of those displaced.
Although the Biden administration has authorized $107 million in humanitarian aid for Ukrainian refugees and civilians and Congress passed a spending bill allocating $6.8 billion for humanitarian assistance in Ukraine, the U.S. government has yet to offer concrete immigration plans to aid in the relocation of those affected by the Ukrainian crisis.
What has been offered so far is Temporary Protected Status (TPS) being granted to Ukrainian nationals who were present in the United States on March 1st, 2022. TPS would grant Ukrainian nationals the right to live in the United States for 18 months where they would be eligible to work legally in the United States. In addition, deportations to Belarus, Georgia, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, and Slovakia were suspended due to the Russian invasion.
Immigration Backlogs Slowing Down Much-needed Help
Ukrainian refugees who would like to come to the United States will need to apply for family-sponsored visas, through the U.S. refugee admissions program, or through ‘humanitarian parole’ if they are eligible. However, these legal pathways for settlement in the United States consist of a lengthy and thorough vetting process that includes interviews, security screenings, medical checks, and other bureaucratic steps which would take years to complete. Furthermore, refugees must also prove a well-founded fear of persecution due to race, nationality, religion, politics, or social group membership.
To make matters more complicated, the U.S. refugee processing center in Kyiv has been forced to relocate to Chisinau, Moldova where it will continue with “limited operations”.
Despite the U.S. wanting to help Ukrainian nationals affected, the United States government is still struggling to process tens of thousands of Afghan nationals who fled the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and deal with a growing influx at the southern border of people requesting asylum.
To make matters worse, the visa backlog at the USCIS has only grown since re-opening operations after closing due to pandemic-related issues. These backlogs have created even greater processing times for those seeking family-based green cards. Ukrainian nationals can enter the U.S. via a temporary tourist visa however must provide proof that they will return to their home country which at present circumstances is extremely difficult to prove.
Last modified on June 23rd, 2023 at 5:52 am
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