Alianta Recommendations to Streamline Access to the United States of Ukrainians Refugees in Romania and Elsewhere
The US Government has announced its intentions to help 100,000 Ukrainian refugees to find security in the United States. It has also announced the Ukraine Program Parole to accelerate the process. We applaud these decisions, and we are committed to help make them work. Below are specific recommendations to do so.
1. Family Petitions take too long.
US citizens (USCs) can petition for parents, spouses, and children while US lawful permanent residents (LPRs) can petition for spouses and unmarried children. Current wait times for such family petitions are 1-14 years, depending on the beneficiary’s degree of relationship to the USC/ LPR, age and marital status: faster times for immediate relatives such as parents/ spouses/ minor children of USCs, longer times for married/ adult/ siblings of USCs. Of note, there is a recent Department of State policy that allows the adjudication of immediate relative petitions directly at US embassies abroad if the US citizen is present there.
- Recommendation 1: Significantly cut down processing times from 12-18 months to less than 1 month for immediate relatives and K-1 fiancé(e)s at US consulates abroad when the US citizen is present at the interview abroad. Processing in less than 1 month would allow US citizen to take emergency vacation time to interview with beneficiary abroad.
- Recommendation 2: For pending family petitions, approve “expedited processing” (if invoked) for Ukrainian nationals, which would cut down on processing times.
2. Non-immigrant visitor/ student visas are too risky.
Ukrainian nationals are allowed to apply for non-immigrant visas in any country with a US Embassy. They could try B-2 visitor visa or F-1 student visa, although they may be denied if they cannot make a good case for temporary stay in the US/ ties to residence abroad.
- Recommendation: As long as the Ukrainian nationals articulate a temporary intent to visit US relatives or friends with sufficient financial resources to support a US stay of up to 6-months, consular officers should not unreasonably deny B-2 visas solely on the potential refugee status of any Ukrainian national.
3. Work Visas/ Employment Sponsorships are too late/ take too long.
Even if there is a US company which desires to sponsor Ukrainian workers, it is too late for the H-1B visa season which ended on March 18, 2022, and employment-based green card sponsorships can take 12-18 months to process.
- Recommendation: Consider allowing expedited processing of any I-140 green card petition/ NVC case for Ukrainians to cut processing times down from 12-18 months
4. The Ukraine Parole Program takes around 3 weeks.
- Recommendation: Reduce the time to receive the work permit under the Ukraine Parole Program to less than 1 month. A work permit is needed to get a Social Security Number (SSN), driver license, health coverage and bank account.
- Recommendation: A Social Security Number (SSN) to be issued independent of work permit, upon showing Humanitarian Parole status at any SSA office.
5. If already in the United States, the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) does not cover anyone arriving after April 11th, 2022.
Once Ukrainians touch US soil, they cannot claim the TPS because it only covers Ukrainians who arrived before April 11th, 2022. They could, however, solicit asylum or a variety of other status options available to those already on US soil (employment sponsorships, student status, etc.).
- Recommendations: Extend TPS to those arriving after April 11th, 2022.
These recommendations were adopted by the Alianta Board and developed by:
- Dana Bucin, Alianta Founding Member, Immigration Attorney and Honorary Consul of Romania to Connecticut
- Duane Butcher, Special Advisor to the Board on the Ukrainian Crisis.
For questions or further information, please contact Florina Lepădatu | Program Manager | firstname.lastname@example.org