More than 2.5 million fled Ukraine during the conflict's initial two weeks.
Global outrage has been sparked by the historic exodus of mostly children and women, combined with graphically harrowing images showing the plight both of civilians in Ukraine as well as refugees from neighbouring countries.
A range of European liberal and conservative governments have openedly welcomed the displaced Ukrainians to their countries.
Will the U.S. accept Ukrainian refugees?
While President Biden stated Friday that they should receive them "with open arms", the U.S. won't likely to accept large numbers of Ukrainian refugees in a short time, according to immigration policy experts.
Most Ukrainian refugees fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries as of March 11. 1.5 million went to Poland, 225,000 to Hungary, and 176,000 to Slovakia. Tens of thousands also fled to Russia, Romania, and Moldova. Additional 282,000 people have also left Europe, including Germany.
According to Theresa Cardinal Brown (ex-DHS immigration official), many refugees might want to stay in Europe closer to Ukraine in case they have a chance to return. Depending on the duration of conflict, this calculation may change.
Cardinal Brown, an analyst for the Bipartisan Policy Centre's immigration and border policy, said that it is not known how many Ukrainians will seek permanent resettlement. "A lot depends upon the outcome of what is happening there now."
The European Union approved a Temporary Protection Directive on March 4 for Ukrainians fleeing Russian invasion. All 27 members agreed to provide them with short-term residence and other benefits such as work authorization.
A spokesperson for the State Department stated that the U.S. would be open to accepting refugees from Ukraine who have fled to third countries, but it is not an immediate process.
It takes many years to complete the U.S. Refugee Process. This involves interviews, security screenings and medical checks. U.S. law requires refugees to prove that they fear persecution for their race, nationality or religion.
According to a spokesperson for the State Department, the U.S. refugee processing centre in Kyiv, which normally processes U.S.-bound asylum seekers from Eurasia, is continuing "limited operations" out of Chisinau (Moldova).
What are the other routes that Ukrainians can take to get to the U.S.A?
Ukrainians fleeing Russia could enter the United States through other routes, but they need a visa in order to legally enter the country. The options are limited.
U.S. visas are granted to students, tourists, business travelers, and short-term visitors. Immigrant visas are issued to permanent residents who were sponsored by American families or employers.
The State Department declared last week that Ukrainians could apply for a temporary visa at any American Consulate after suspending visa processing in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. The U.S. consulate at Frankfurt, Germany was also designated as the processing hub to process Ukrainian immigrant visa application.
However, visa applicants will have to endure long waits because of limited processing capacity at U.S consulates and an increasing backlogof applications that was made worse by the pandemic. Because they must prove that they intend to return home, applicants may not be eligible for temporary visas.
U.S. officials have a power called parole which allows them to accept foreigners without visas for humanitarian reasons. After the Taliban retook Afghanistan, more than 70 000 Afghan evacuees were resettled using parole.
Cardinal Brown, a former DHS official, suggested that the U.S. could use parole in order to admit some displaced Ukrainians. This would include family members of U.S. citizens or green card holders. Parole does not grant permanent U.S. residency to recipients, but it may allow them to work legally.
Cardinal Brown stated that expanding legal pathways for Ukrainians would discourage illegal immigration.
She said that if there are many Ukrainians who want to travel to the United States, and we don't provide the means, we find more of these people trying to enter unauthorized ways," she explained, citing an increase in the number of Ukrainians being processed at the Mexican border by U.S. officials.
DHS data shows that 1,029 Ukrainian migrants were detained at the U.S. southern border in the first four months in fiscal year 2022. This is compared to 676 arrests in fiscal 2021.
Have the U.S. ever resettled Ukrainian refugees in the past?
The number of Ukrainian refugees who entered the U.S. last month was 427, a 39% increase over January.
Under President Trump's dramatic cuts to refugee programs, the U.S. saw a sharp increase in the number of Ukrainians resettled. This was primarily due to Trump's restriction on refugees from war-torn countries like Africa and the Middle East.
Ukrainian refugees have historically entered the U.S. via a special program that was established in 1989 to assist members of religious minorities from former Soviet republics who are living with their immediate relatives in the U.S.
Lautenberg Amendment applicants are not required to show that they can face persecution individually, unlike other refugees. The decades-old law is mostly beneficial to Protestant Christians today.
What steps has the U.S. taken already?
So far, $107 million has been authorized by the Biden administration for humanitarian aid to Ukraine's civilians and refugees. According to The White House, these funds are intended to provide food and medical services to those who have been displaced by the conflict in Ukraine.
This week's massive spending bill by Congress would allocate $6.8 million to U.S. humanitarian aid funds for Ukrainian refugees.
Alejandro Mayorkas, Homeland Security Secretary, made 75,100 Ukrainians in America eligible to Temporary Protected status (TPS) on March 3. This humanitarian program allows beneficiaries to legally live and work in the U.S. while their home countries are ravaged by war or other crises.
Only Ukrainians who arrived in the U.S. on March 1st are eligible to participate in the 18-month TPS Program.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), also announced March 3 that it had temporarily halted the deportation of Ukraine's citizens due to Russia’s invasion. ICE also suspended deportations from Belarus, Georgia and Hungary, Moldova. Poland, Romania. Russia.
Advocacy groups have asked DHS for Special Student Relief to approximately 1,700 Ukrainians studying in U.S schools. This would lower their course load and allow them to work.