US immigration: US on track to welcome 100,000 Ukrainians

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The US is reportedly on track to welcome 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, fleeing the conflict with Russia, this summer. According to official US immigration figures, 71,000 Ukrainians have already entered the US since March, meaning Biden’s pledge to receive 100,000 refugees from Ukraine is on course.


Currently, 15,000 have been welcomed into the US after being approved for sponsorship through the ‘Uniting for Ukraine’ program, according to data released by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). 

A further 23,000 people have been approved but have not yet made the journey to the US, with travel arrangements being the responsibility of Ukrainians themselves or their sponsors. Launched in April, Uniting for Ukraine sponsors – including friends, relatives, NGOs and church groups – have applied online to support more than 60,000 Ukrainians.


New online applications

Meanwhile, a report published by The Washington Post claims that approximately 1,400 new online applications to sponsor individual Ukrainians have been made. In recent years, particularly under the Trump administration, anti US immigration measures have become increasingly hostile towards migrants and refugees.

However, the US public and the Biden administration have generally been welcoming of Ukrainians. Since the conflict with Russia began on February 24, at least 12 million Ukrainians have been displaced, according to the United Nations (UN). 

Of those who have fled, 5.3 million have sought refuge across Europe – including 1.8 million in the Russian Federation, 1.2 million in Poland, 780,000 in Germany and 120,000 in Spain. Approximately 7 million Ukrainians are said to be displaced in their homeland.

With large numbers of Ukrainians fleeing their country, and with no sign of Putin slowing down his military attacks, the Biden administration could be forced to increase the number of Ukrainian nationals welcomed into the US.


US-Mexico border 

Most Ukrainians are arriving in the US via the Uniting for Ukraine scheme and numbers continue to rise. The majority who have entered the country have done so on existing US visas or by crossing the US-Mexico border.

At the southern border, a reported 24,000 Ukrainian nationals have been fast-tracked into the US at land crossings such as Tijuana between March and May, according to official data released by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Prior to the Ukraine-Russia conflict, Ukrainian nationals were subject to the same land border restrictions as those imposed of tens of thousands of Mexicans and Central Americans. 

Most Mexican and Central American migrants at the southern border have been blocked from entering the US to seek asylum under the controversial Title 42 US immigration policy. The policy has been in force, and selectively used, since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.


US immigration rules eased for Afghans

In addition to being on course to welcome 100,000 Ukrainian nationals, the US government recently eased US immigration rules for Afghans. The relaxed restrictions will make it easier for Afghans to apply to resettle in the United States.

Until recently, Afghans who held civilian positions under the Taliban regime, or paid it for public services such as obtaining a passport, have been ineligible for a US visa on the grounds that they have ties with a terrorist group. The Biden administration says that this is no longer the case.

A State Department spokesperson told Voice of America: “The Secretary of Homeland Security and Secretary of State exercised their authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act to allow the US government, on a case-by-case basis, to grant an exemption for otherwise qualified applicants for US visas and certain other US immigration benefits who would otherwise not qualify due to the statute’s broad inadmissibility grounds.”

“This action will allow the US government to meet the protection needs of qualifying Afghans who do not pose a national security or public safety risk and provide them with the ability to access a durable immigration status in the United States,” the spokesperson added.

It’s understood that Afghans who worked as civil servants during the first Taliban reign from September 1996 to December 2001 – and after August 15, 2021 – will also be eligible under the new policy. can help with US employment-based visas

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