Addressing Some Common Questions and Misconceptions About Uniting for Ukraine and Other Private Migrant Sponsorship Programs
Since publishing a Washington Post article (paywall-free version here) about the Uniting for Ukraine private refugee sponsorship program, I have gotten a variety of questions about how the program works, particularly from people interested in possibly becoming sponsors. Interest was further heightened by the White House’s recent expansion of private sponsorship to include four Latin American countries: Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Haiti.
In this post, I go over a few of the most common questions and misconceptions I have seen. The post is not a comprehensive guide to becoming a sponsor. Still less does it try to address all the moral and policy issues at stake in these programs (though I have written about the latter in various previous writings, such as here and here). But I hope it can be useful nonetheless.
I. Is the Uniting for Ukraine program capped at 100,000 participants?
Months ago, President Biden said the US would seek to take in 100,000 Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion of their country. This has apparently led many people—both Ukrainians and potential American sponsors—to assume that the Uniting for Ukraine program is capped at 100,000 participants. But, in reality, there is no such cap. The figure of 100,000 was just political rhetoric, not a legally binding constraint.
This is actually one of those rare instances where a government policy has outperformed aspirational promises, as opposed to fallen short of them. As of December, 94,000 Ukrainians had already entered the country under the policy, and tens of thousands more had been authorized to come, though not yet arrived. By now, the 100,000 figure has almost certainly been exceeded.
While there is no numerical cap on Uniting for Ukraine participants, the newly announced program for Cubans, Nicaraguans, Venezuelans, and Haitians does have such a restriction: a cap of 30,000 per month from all four countries combined. However, applicants who miss the cutoff one month can potentially be admitted the next.
II. Do participating migrants have to live in their sponsor’s house?
The answer to this unexpectedly common question is “no.” There is no such rule, and admittedly anecdotal evidence suggests that most sponsorees do not in fact live in their sponsors’ homes, and especially not for more than a brief period after arriving in the US. Participants in private sponsorship programs generally seek out rental housing, as have most other immigrants throughout American history. They can afford to do so, because they are legally authorized to work in the United States, and most seek to quickly enter the labor force (which is very feasible given severe labor shortages in ma
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