In early May, “the first notices authorizing Ukrainian nationals to travel to the United States to seek parole through the Uniting for Ukraine process were sent out,” Liza Acevedo, a spokesperson for the US Department of Homeland Security, said in a statement.
As of Thursday, “more than 15,000 individuals are able to book their own travel” to come to the United States, Acevedo said.
To enter the United States, those travelers have to meet certain requirements — including vaccinations and infectious disease screenings.
Sponsors need to pass security background checks of their own. There’s no limit on the number of individuals a person or group can sponsor, but administration officials noted that they’ll be evaluating sponsors’ means and ability to support Ukrainians.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian applicants will undergo rigorous security checks, including biographic and biometric screening, and must have been residents of Ukraine as of February 11. They must also meet certain public health requirements, including receiving a Covid-19 vaccine.
“They’ll require these individuals to attest that they have received at least one dose of diseases, polio and Covid vaccinations prior to coming into the country. If they have not, they must receive the vaccination abroad from the country that they are in, ” said Lori Tremmel Freeman, chief executive officer of the National Association of County and City Health Officials.
Additionally, “they’ll have two weeks once they get here to complete tuberculosis screening if they are 2 years or older,” Freeman said. Any community provider could conduct the screenings — but because the Ukrainians probably will not have health insurance, many will be done by local health departments.
People then submit those results on their myUSCIS account.
“The reason for the aggressive approach with the measles and polio vaccines in particular, and also TB, is because Ukraine is known as an area that in the past has had severe measles outbreaks, and we want to be careful,” Freeman said. “From a health security standpoint in our country, it was important to set up the eligibility to come here based on this attestation.”
As more people are approved to come to the US, health officials expect many of them to travel to two states, Freeman said: Washington and New York.
“It would seem like there would be opportunity for them to connect within their own community in those places,” Freeman said. “That would be the draw.”