Biden announces 'Unite for Ukraine' program

It's part of his pledge that the U.S. will accept as many as 100,000 refugees from Ukraine

Biden announces 'Unite for Ukraine' program

President Joe Biden has announced the “Unite for Ukraine” program, which will allow individual Americans and nonprofits to sponsor Ukrainian refugees, provided they can financially support them.

“This program will be fast, it will be streamlined, and it will ensure the United States honors its commitment to the people of Ukraine, and that they need not go through our southern border,” Biden said Thursday at the White House.

The program will be based on an online portal, which goes live on April 25, through which United States-based individuals and groups can apply to become sponsors and upload documents, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In order to be eligible for the expedited process, Ukrainians must have lived in Ukraine as of Feb. 11. They must also undergo vaccinations, biometric screening and background checks before being granted admission.

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In March, the Biden administration announced that the U.S. would accept as many as 100,000 refugees from Ukraine. As a result, thousands of Ukrainians flew to Mexico and arrived at the U.S. borders in person, where they were granted entry under a special refugee status, CNBC reported. Since then, Ukrainians have been exempted from Title 42, the immigration rule that requires Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to remove asylum seekers rather than grant them entry into the country to wait for a hearing.

Starting Monday, when the “Unite for Ukraine” portal is expected to launch, Ukrainians who present themselves at the border will be turned away and told to go to the website, according to DHS. The United Nations estimates that more than five million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion.

The U.S. government expects to use its refugee admission program, as well as the parole system and immigrant and non-immigrant visas to bring in Ukrainians, NPR reported.

The refugee admission program is designed to offer resettlement opportunities to persons overseas who are of “special humanitarian concern, while protecting national security and combating fraud,” according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The government arranges placement by ensuring that approved refugees are sponsored and offered appropriate assistance upon arrival; providing refugees with basic necessities and core services during their initial resettlement period; and promoting refugee self-sufficiency through employment as soon as possible after arrival.

The government should have no problem with that last part because Silicon Valley has been trying to hire Ukrainian citizens to fill tech roles. Palo Alto, CA-based HyperC, Mountain View, CA-based Tubular Labs and Fremont, CA-based AMAX are just a few firms who’ve posted ads for tech positions on Remote Ukraine, a website that’s been created to help Ukrainians get jobs. Even entertainment giant Live Nation, headquartered in Beverly Hills, CA, has posted listings for tech, advertising and sales roles.

Ukraine has a stellar reputation for producing engineers and software developers. In Kyiv, the country’s capital, there are more than 10 universities alone, CNBC reported. The country prides itself on training its citizens in science, math, engineering and tech. In addition to Google and Samsung having research and development centers in the country, Grammarly, WhatsApp, Solana and Gitlab were all founded by Ukrainians.

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