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Welcoming New Neighbors from Ukraine: What do Service Providers Need to Know?

This post describes how Ukrainians arrive in the U.S. and provides housing tips to share with sponsors for these new neighbors.

Understanding Ukrainian Resettlement

Ukrainians who are fleeing violence can enter the United States through several avenues. Traditional pathways such as refugee status, asylum, and various types of visas are viable for some Ukrainians. But many are also entering the U.S. as Ukrainian Humanitarian Parolees (UHPs) through the Uniting for Ukraine (U4U) program. Though UHPs have the right to access the same programs and services as many other newcomers, a few key differences distinguish UHPs from other groups: 

Systems of Support 

Typically, refugee resettlement agencies work with the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) to provide initial support for refugees arriving through the Reception and Placement (R&P) program. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) U4U program, however, is based on a sponsorship model that connects supporters—qualifying community members of lawful status in the U.S.—with Ukrainian newcomers.

Individuals or groups interested in sponsoring new Ukrainian arrivals must prove their ability to financially support a UHP for the duration of their parole (up to two years). According to USCIS, supporters must also be ready to assist beneficiaries in the following ways:

  • Meeting the newcomer when they arrive in the U.S. and transporting them to their housing.
  • Ensuring safe and appropriate housing for the duration of parole.
  • Assisting the newcomer in completing paperwork for employment authorization, a Social Security card, etc.
  • Assisting the newcomer in accessing health care and ensuring that their medical needs are met for the duration of the parole.
  • As appropriate, assisting the newcomer with accessing education, learning English, securing employment, and enrolling children in school.

Beyond the support of their welcomers, UHPs may be eligible for mainstream federal benefits (TANF, SSI, and SNAP) as well as Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR)-funded assistance and services. Such ORR benefits—Refugee Cash Assistance, Refugee Medical Assistance, Matching Grant Program, Domestic Medical Screening, and Employment Assistance, among other specialized programs—are also based on eligibility.

Do you know community members interested in sponsoring Ukrainian newcomers fleeing violence? To help them get started, share the registration page at Welcome.US.

Housing Ukrainian Humanitarian Parolees

Housing is an essential aspect of care for any newcomer, including UHPs. Currently, there are no established housing requirements or guidelines through the U4U program. Some private sponsorship programs, such as Welcome Corps, follow best practices. Welcome Corps’ Private Sponsor Group Welcome Plan states that private sponsor groups are required to secure safe, sanitary, affordable housing for Ukrainian newcomers for the duration of the sponsorship. They also note it is important that the newcomer be able to assume payment of their rent by the end of the sponsorship period.

Housing Resources to Share with Sponsors

Though our national capacity to welcome newcomers is expanding with the U4U program, certain technical aspects of resettlement may be difficult or overwhelming for new sponsors. This includes locating safe, sanitary, and affordable housing. Below are some tips for navigating the housing market that you can share with sponsors supporting Ukrainian newcomers: 

Options for Short-Term Housing Upon Arrival

Newcomers often need to be present in the U.S. to sign a lease. Therefore, UHPs typically require temporary housing accommodations when they first arrive. These short-term units must be furnished and equipped with an adequate number of rooms, including a functioning kitchen.  Such options can include:

  • Hotels with accessible kitchenettes
  • Airbnb units
  • Separate living spaces attached to private homes
  • Hosting within the sponsor’s home

Securing Long-Term Housing

Sponsors can help search for safe, sanitary, and affordable long-term housing on the following platforms:

Landlords typically place ads one to two months before a unit becomes available. Sponsors should therefore be proactive in searching for housing. They can even begin the search before the Ukrainian newcomers’ arrival.

Affordable Housing 

If the newcomer family qualifies for public housing or rental assistance programs, sponsors can tap into the following resources: