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Nearly a month after US President Joe Biden promised to take in up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, his administration on Thursday detailed how it plans to accept the influx of people.
The move comes as more than five million Ukrainians have fled the devastating conflict to neighbouring countries in Europe, according to the UN.
The State Department will expand its capacity at embassies and consulates across Europe to help facilitate Ukrainian visa applications and the refugee resettlement process.
Starting on April 25, “Uniting for Ukraine” will provide Ukrainian citizens who were residents of the country as of February 11, 2022 a streamlined process to apply for humanitarian parole.
According to the White House, to be eligible Ukrainians must meet vaccination and public health requirements and undergo extensive security checks.
Under the plan, US citizens and organisations may apply through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to sponsor refugees.
“We are proud to deliver on President Biden’s commitment to welcome 100,000 Ukrainians and others fleeing Russian aggression to the United States,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas in a statement.
“DHS will continue to provide relief to the Ukrainian people, while supporting our European allies who have shouldered so much as the result of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.”
Since the Russian invasion on February 24, thousands of Ukrainians have travelled to Mexico and crossed into the US on foot. The Biden administration has warned that from next week that will no longer be an option.
“Ukrainians who present at land US ports of entry without a valid visa or without pre-authorisation to travel to the United States through Uniting for Ukraine will be denied entry and referred to apply through this programme,” the administration said in a statement.
So many Ukrainians have fled to Mexico in the hope of crossing into the US that Mexican authorities have provided a sports complex in the northern city of Tijuana to refugees while they wait to enter the US.