The Biden administration is expected to announce new details soon on how Ukrainian refugees might seek entry into the United States on humanitarian grounds, a source familiar with the planning said.
The move comes nearly a month after US President Joe Biden pledged to admit up to 100,000 Ukrainians fleeing the invasion.
More than 5,000 Ukrainians tried to enter the US in March, including 3,274 on the southern border with Mexico, according to US Customs and Border Protection data.
The humanitarian parole program, which would fall under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security and could be announced as soon as Thursday, would require Ukrainians seeking entry into the U.S. to be sponsored by a U.S. citizen or individual, including resettlement organizations and non-profit organizations, the source said.
The individuals would have to undergo rigorous security screenings and checks — including biographical and biometric screening and full vaccinations and other public health requirements, such as receiving the Covid-19 vaccine — to be eligible, the source said.
Sponsors must pass a background check themselves and declare financial support.
The process would allow Ukrainian applicants to travel to the US and qualify for humanitarian parole on a case-by-case basis for up to two years, the source said. If accepted, the individuals would be eligible for work permit.
According to the source, the Biden administration could begin processing applications for the program before the end of April.
In addition to the humanitarian parole program, the State Department is working to expand the operations of the Refugee Admissions Program in Europe, the source added, with the aim of giving eligible individuals better access to the Lautenberg program — a 1989 initiative aimed at helping those fleeing religious persecution from the Soviet Union — and stepping up referral mechanisms for Ukrainians seeking permanent resettlement.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Wednesday that the government was finalizing details of how it would welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees to the US.
A White House spokesman declined to comment on the new details, but said additional details about the administration’s efforts would be announced “soon”. The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
More than five million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began in late February, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said Wednesday.