Ukraine Crisis FAQ

Where can Ukrainians find information and help?

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, has provided the following help-pages and phone numbers:

     • Inside Ukraine: UNHCR website and the IDP hotline 0-800-307-711

     • Hungary: UNHCR website

     • Poland: UNHCR website and the Polish government website for Ukrainians: (scroll down for additional languages and government hotline number: +48477217575)

     • Moldova: UNHCR email and phone number +373 22 271 853 for UNHCR. A government hotline for Ukrainians refugees ('the green line') has been newly established in Moldova: 0 8000 1527.

     • Romania: UNHCR website and the website of our partner, the Romanian National Council for Refugees

     • Slovakia: UNHCR Website

The International Office for Migration (IOM) is supporting a National Counter-Trafficking and Migrant Advice Hotline for Ukrainian citizens and migrants residing in Ukraine.

     • Phone numbers are 527 (free from mobile phones) and 0800505501 (free from landline phones).

     • Hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.

     • The hotline provides information on safe border crossing; migration, including family reunification and permanent residence; visa procedures; contacts for consular institutions, public organizations helping migrants in Ukraine and abroad, associations of the Ukrainian diaspora abroad; state migration programs; consultations for foreign citizens residing in Ukraine; and information on countering human trafficking.

HIAS Israel is advocating for fair entry and protection policies, providing individual legal assistance for refugees, and, with local partners in Israel, assessing and helping meet the immediate needs of newly arrived Ukrainians.

     • HIAS Israel (inquiries by email only): info-il@hias.org.

JDC has launched a centralized Hesed hotline in Israel, serving Jews in Ukraine and relatives in other countries. It is staffed by Russian, Hebrew, and English speakers.

     • Ukraine phone number +380-947-111-104

For help in the U.S.:

     • For people in New York and the DC/Maryland area: Information about HIAS’ legal services in New York and Silver Spring, Md.

     • If you're outside of those two jurisdictions, a good resource for finding an immigration attorney in the U.S. is the National Immigration Legal Services Directory.

What is HIAS doing in response to the Ukrainian crisis?

HIAS, the international Jewish humanitarian organization, has a long history in Ukraine, having worked to resettle Jews after World War II and the end of the former Soviet Union. In 2001, HIAS established an office in Kiev to help Ukrainian Jews and other religious minorities seeking to migrate to the United States, and later began assisting people from across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia seeking asylum in Ukraine. In 2013, HIAS Ukraine helped establish Right to Protection (R2P), an independent Ukrainian NGO providing legal and humanitarian aid to internally displaced people (IDPs) from Eastern Ukraine.

We are constantly adapting to meet the needs and adding more services every week. Here’s how we are responding to the crisis today:

  • Inside Ukraine, our partner Right to Protection (R2P) provides mental health and psychosocial programming through in person and remote support and operates a hotline 15 hours a day, seven days a week to provide information about services, evacuation, and refugee status. R2P is conducting protection monitoring at checkpoints and monitoring visits to those who have not left their homes and is also distributing food and non-food items. We have sent a Ukraine Response Coordinator to the country to support R2P and build out additional HIAS programs in the country and on the border.
  • In Poland, HIAS has Emergency Response staff in Warsaw has added staff at the border with Ukraine in Rzeszow. HIAS is hiring technical staff to focus on child protection, cash assistance, and mental health and psychosocial support, and through our partner, CADENA, providing child-friendly spaces, psychosocial aid, and logistics. HIAS is working with Airbnb to provide emergency housing in Poland.
  • HIAS Europe has provided financial assistance to Jewish communities in Poland, Moldova, and Romania. It has placed a Relocation Officer in Moldova, with more staff to come in Poland, Hungary, and Romania, to help people relocate to Western Europe. HIAS is also supporting other Western Europeans seeking to support newly arrived refugees by partnering with local communities, municipalities, the private sector, and other governmental and NGO partners.
  • In the U.S., HIAS is providing legal advice to Ukrainians applying for Temporary Protected Status. Now that the Administration has announced Uniting for Ukraine, which allows people and organizations in the U.S. to sponsor Ukrainians for admission to the U.S. in temporary parole status, HIAS is exploring how to assist sponsors in filling out forms and showing they meet the program requirements.
  • HIAS Partners include, in addition to R2P: Foundation Our Choice, a Polish NGO established by Ukrainians in 2009, which is providing shelter and cash for rent through the HIAS-Airbnb partnership; VOICE, which supports women’s rights and women-led organizations in emergencies, and began an assessment in Moldova, Slovakia, and Poland this week; and CADENA, an INGO focused on disaster and crisis prevention and response, which is providing food, blankets, clothes, and psychosocial support to refugees at the Ukraine-Poland border.

Donations made to HIAS’ Ukraine response will fund HIAS, R2P, program partners, Jewish communities, and community-based activities in support of displaced Ukrainians. HIAS is serving both Jews and others who need our help during this crisis.

  • Learn more about HIAS’ Ukraine Response here.
  • More information about HIAS in Ukraine here.
  • For up-to-the-minute news and updates, follow HIAS on Facebook and Twitter.

 

What can I do to help?

If you live in the United States:

     • Consider whether you – or your congregation or organization – can serve as a sponsor for someone forced to flee Ukraine. Individuals, groups of people, and “entities” can apply to sponsor Ukrainians through Uniting for Ukraine, a process facilitated by the Department of Homeland Security. Review the requirements for both sponsors and beneficiaries to determine whether this opportunity makes sense for you and/or your congregation or organization.

     • Consider the other forms of community support you may be able to offer. Most people who serve as sponsors for individuals and families fleeing the violence in Ukraine will need help. Resettlement is hyper-local — welcome is local, personal, communal — and essential support comes in many forms. Now is the time to have these conversations with your partners, your synagogues and faith communities, your organizations, even your businesses. Do you work for a law firm that can provide pro bono support? Can your synagogue rally around a sponsor to provide support connecting those arriving with services? Do you have connections to real estate and housing?  

     • Provide housing. Register your home on Airbnb.org, which is the non-profit arm of Airbnb and a partner of HIAS in matching refugees with housing. You can also register your home on the Ukraine Take Shelter site.

     • Advocate. See the above section on HIAS’ advocacy asks for Ukrainians. We need a strong, loud, diverse set of voices advocating for critical benefits and rights for Ukrainians, Afghans, and all refugee populations. Call and write to your elected officials.

     • Donate. There are some efforts underway for the public to move goods to Ukraine, but they are unofficial and HIAS cannot vouch for them at this time. The most effective way people can assist relief efforts is by making cash contributions to humanitarian organizations that are conducting relief operations. You can donate to HIAS here.

     • Stay informed. Follow the news at www.hias.org, and bookmark both the HIAS volunteer page and the HIAS in-kind giving opportunities page. Finally, if you’re interested in sponsorship of any sort, please let us know by filling out this short form. We are building our supports for those welcoming Ukrainians to the United States and will be in touch to connect you to our programs and resources, as well as to potential sponsorship opportunities around the country.

If you live in Europe:

      Provide housing. Register your home on Airbnb.org, which is the non-profit arm of Airbnb and a partner of HIAS in matching refugees with housing and/or fill out HIAS Europe’s form on housing availability here.

     • Stay informed. Join the HIAS Europe Facebook group to learn about the evolving ways in which you can take action and provide assistance.  

How can I help someone get out of Ukraine?  

Under the administration’s Uniting for Ukraine plan, a U.S. sponsor (which includes friends and relatives as well as organizations) can file an I-134 Affidavit of Financial Support form. This form will document that the applying sponsor(s) has the financial means to support the arriving Ukrainian(s) for up to two years, if necessary. Ukrainians must have been residents in Ukraine as of February 11, 2022; have a sponsor in the U.S; complete public health requirements (including vaccinations); and pass security checks. Starting on April 25th, U.S.-based individuals and organizations can apply to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to start the sponsorship process. All potential sponsors will need to provide in-depth financial support information and pass background checks. This plan is meant to be a streamlined process, with expectations that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will approve or deny these applications within a matter of days. After the I-134 is approved, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) will collect biometrics, run security checks, and register the Ukrainian beneficiary in a new CBP system called ATIS. This system will notify Ukrainians when they can book their travel to the United States.

Click here for a Humanitarian Parole for Ukrainians toolkit.

Can Ukrainians be resettled as refugees in the U.S.? Can I sponsor a refugee?

With all refugee crises, there are three so-called “durable solutions”: Return, Integration in the country to which refugees fled, and Resettlement. In the early days of a humanitarian crisis, the priority is typically not resettlement, but rather on ensuring that refugees have access to life-sustaining services, including food, shelter, and water. With time, it will become clear how many of the Ukrainians who fled can return home, how many will stay in the countries to which they fled, and how many must be resettled to other countries.

European Union member nations have committed to allowing Ukrainians and people from other countries that had been residing in Ukraine, including asylum seekers, to live and work in EU countries for at least 2 years. This helpful resource provides information about this new temporary status. It is widely expected that most people displaced from Ukraine will return to Ukraine if it is safe or stay in EU countries.

With a refugee crisis of this scope, the United States and other countries outside of Europe must share the responsibility and demonstrate solidarity for meeting the needs of the forcibly displaced. The Uniting for Ukraine plan, announced on April 21, prioritizes the use of humanitarian parole, but the announcement also mentioned the use of the US refugee admissions program. Parolees are not admitted with refugee status, so they will not have access to the same resettlement services that refugees can get. An act of Congress would be required to authorize Ukrainian parolees access to resettlement services and support.

Ukrainian Jews, Evangelical Christians, Catholics, and some members of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church, can reunite with family members in the U.S. under what’s known as the Lautenberg program. The Uniting for 4 Ukraine plan included the administration’s intent to prioritize the Lautenberg caseload, however, at this time, we do not have information about the administration’s plan for admitting Ukrainian Lautenberg cases.

To qualify for the Lautenberg program, the person must be the child, parent, sibling, grandparent, or grandchild of a U.S. resident, asylee, refugee, or citizen. To start the application process, the U.S. relative must apply through a resettlement agency located near where the U.S. family member lives.

• Local U.S. resettlement agencies – note: HIAS HQ is not a resettlement office and cannot accept Lautenberg program applications or discuss case information directly with clients.

• HIAS New York , HIAS Pennsylvania , and HIAS Chicago are local resettlement agencies.

We also do not yet have confirmation about the implications for Lautenberg applicants who decide to come through the parole program rather than waiting for Lautenberg processing. It is possible that people who come through parole will lose their eligibility for refugee status. HIAS is advocating for this not to happen and will share more information about this as it becomes available. For questions about specific Lautenberg cases, families in the U.S. should be in touch with the resettlement agency with which they filed their Lautenberg applications.

For people in Ukraine who are already in the refugee resettlement process through the Resettlement Support Center (RSC) Eurasia/IOM (Ukrainian cases or otherwise), if the original address on file with the RSC has changed, email the RSC at icc@iom.int to provide a new location and contact details.

The Uniting for Ukraine announcement also indicates that the U.S. plans to admit “others fleeing Russia’s aggression.” That is a broad category, but the announcement also states that the U.S. “is working with European partners, UNHCR, and NGOs to identify particularly vulnerable Ukrainian citizens and others fleeing the conflict who may warrant permanent resettlement through the USRAP. These particularly vulnerable populations include women and girls, children, older persons with special needs, persons with disabilities, medically fragile individuals and stateless persons.” 

Can Ukrainians get visas to come to the U.S.?

According to the Uniting for Ukraine announcement, “European embassies and consulates are increasing, to the extent possible, the number of nonimmigrant visa appointments and ensuring there is an 5 expedited visa appointment program for individuals with humanitarian, medical, or other extraordinary circumstances to get priority access.”

On February 13, 2022, the Department of State suspended consular services, including interview waiver services, at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv. Applicants for U.S. nonimmigrant visas may apply in any country in which they are physically present and where there are appointments available. Note that the Administration has reiterated that non-immigrant visas, such as tourist visas, are only available to people who can demonstrate that they intend to remain in the U.S. for a temporary period. For the tourist visa this is generally no more than 6 months. People who have an immigrant visa currently pending with the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv may be able to transfer processing of an immigration case to another U.S. Embassy. They must contact the receiving U.S Embassy in that country to authorize and initiate transfer. The Embassy will have a list of requirements which must be satisfied in order to begin the transfer process.

Ukrainians with close U.S. citizen family members in the U.S. may be eligible for family-based immigrant visas. Information and eligibility information is available from the USCIS website. As each U.S. Embassy has specific application procedures, applicants should contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where they wish to apply directly. Contact information for U.S. Embassies and Consulates is available from the State Department website

What are the options for Ukrainians in the U.S. with temporary or expired visas? Can they get financial or other kinds of help?

It may be possible to request an extension of the authorized period of stay of a tourist or other visa. Information can be found here.

Ukrainians with expired visas or who are not authorized to remain in the U.S. who are currently in the U.S. are now eligible to live and work in the U.S. for 18 months under Temporary Protected Status. TPS, or Temporary Protected Status, is a temporary immigration status provided to nationals of specifically designated countries that are experiencing an ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster, or other extraordinary temporary conditions. It provides a work permit and deportation reprieve to people who are in the United States at the time the U.S. government makes the designation. Ukrainians who were present in the United States on April 11, 2022, are eligible for TPS, but Ukrainians who arrive to the United States after that date are not eligible. An estimated 60,000 Ukrainians in the United States may be eligible for TPS. Nationals of Ukraine will not automatically receive TPS but must apply with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) during a defined registration period and pay requisite filing fees. We advise Ukrainian nationals to speak with an immigration attorney before attempting to apply for TPS on their own. 6 HIAS’ pro bono team helps run monthly remote TPS clinics with several partner organizations, including the ABA Commission on Immigration. The TPS applicant registration form for the remote May clinic is available here. Russian and Ukrainian speakers who are interested in helping as volunteer interpreters can sign up here.

Ukrainians in the United States on temporary non-immigrant visas (for example tourists and students) or who have expired visas are not eligible for federal public benefits in the U.S. Unfortunately, HIAS cannot provide financial assistance to Ukrainians in the U.S. who arrive outside of the U.S. refugee program. Different states offer different benefits available to people who have overstayed their visas, undocumented persons, asylum seekers, and others without permanent status in the United States. You should look up information specific to your state's department of health and human services, as each state has a website that describes what benefits are available. 

What should I be advocating?

Advocacy Asks:

     • The administration’s Uniting for Ukraine program will allow some Ukrainian families to be reunited, but this plan does not offer permanent status for the Ukrainians who arrive under this plan or for those who are not eligible to participate.

     • HIAS is pleased that the April 21 announcement mentioned the Lautenberg program and other groups of vulnerable people who could come through the U.S. refugee program, but the announcement was devoid of additional details. We therefore call upon the administration to quickly share its plans for how it intends to utilize the U.S. refugee program as part of the Uniting for Ukraine response. HIAS continues to urge the administration to use the U.S. refugee program to quickly admit Ukrainian with family in the U.S., including Ukrainian religious minorities in the Lautenberg program, as well as the third country nationals (including asylum seekers, refugees, and humanitarian evacuees) who were in Ukraine prior to the start of the war.

     • The Uniting for Ukraine announcement was explicit in its intent to attempt to dissuade Ukrainians from presenting at the U.S.-Mexico border seeking safety. HIAS urges the administration to ensure that the Uniting for Ukraine program does not impede Ukrainians’ legal right to seek asylum.

     • HIAS urges the administration and Congress to ensure that the use of humanitarian parole in response to refugee emergencies does not become a trend, leading to the weakening of the U.S. refugee program and limited protections for parolees.

     • Ukrainians and Afghans who enter the U.S. as humanitarian parolees should be able to get on a path to permanent residency. The possibility of return to Afghanistan is unlikely, and we cannot assume that all Ukrainians who enter the U.S. as parolees will be able or want to return home. Congress must therefore pass an Afghan Adjustment Act and provide legal pathways to permanency for Ukrainian parolees.

     • Congress and the administration must ensure that USCIS and CBP have the necessary resources to process Ukrainian I-134 applications in a matter of days, as is the stated goal, while at the same time not pulling staffing and resources from the processing of other parole, refugee, and asylum applications.  

     • Local resettlement agencies must have sufficient resources to provide assistance to potential sponsors who need help filing I-134s, Ukrainian parolees who need support applying for their work authorization documents; Ukrainians applying for TPS, as well as Ukrainian and Afghan parolees who need help navigating the U.S. asylum system. • The U.S. and international community should support NGOs, in particular, locally led civil society actors and multilateral organizations in Ukraine and the region, to provide timely and sufficient levels of humanitarian relief. All donor states should respond generously to the appeal (Progress - UNHCR Ukraine Appeal).

Asks to the EU and Member States:

     • The EU and Member States should work to reduce the vulnerability of women and children on the move to abuse and exploitation. Provision of quality information, material and psychosocial support, identification and protection of unaccompanied minors, and access to documents, legal aid, justice and social rights are key ways states can support vulnerable groups.

     • The European Commission’s decision to provide Temporary Protection to people fleeing Ukraine allows them access to residence permits, education, housing, and the labor market. However, legislation implementing this decision in Poland and Hungary excludes third country nationals fleeing Ukraine, including stateless people and beneficiaries of international protection. These laws breach the EU Temporary Protection Directive and should be repealed and amended.

     • To maximize reception capacity, the EU and Member States should support local communities stepping up to welcome refugees. The European Commission’s Safe Homes initiative should provide capacity-building and financial support to host communities.

     • Member States should prioritize inclusion measures targeted at Ukrainians, even in the early stages of the crisis response. The EU should restrict funding to civil society projects on relocation, community support, and inclusion.

To be kept up to date on advocacy for Ukrainians, visit the HIAS Take Action page.

Can I volunteer to help on the ground in Europe?  

At this time, HIAS does not have volunteer opportunities in the region. We strongly advise that no one travel to the region for the purpose of volunteering without having already been in direct contact with and secured a volunteer assignment from a humanitarian aid agency working on the ground.