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Biden Administration Considering Expediting Some Ukrainian Refugee Cases, Official Says

The Biden administration is considering accelerating the resettlement of Ukrainian refugees with ties to the United States, including family members already living here, according to a US official, amid growing calls from advocates for it to be done. more for the millions of people fleeing a war-torn Ukraine.

US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have repeatedly pledged to welcome Ukrainian refugees to the US, but the reality for those trying to rejoin their family in the US. The US is different, given the limited ways in which Ukrainians can legally come to the country.

Nearly three million people have already fled Ukraine for neighboring countries, according to the United Nations refugee agency. Although most Ukrainian refugees are likely to stay in Europe, there are those who want to come to the United States, where they have families. There are more than a million people of Ukrainian descent in the United States, according to 2019 census estimates.

Options for Ukrainian refugees seeking to reach the United States are limited. The US refugee resettlement process, for example, can take years to complete, prompting pressure from advocates to speed up the process for people who already have relatives in the US and could settle further. easily where those relatives are.

A State Department spokesman said the United States is working with European allies and partners, along with international organizations, to support people displaced by war.

“If there are Ukrainians who cannot stay safely and for whom resettlement in the United States is a better option, we will work with UNHCR and the EU to consider them. It is not a quick process, so we will look at other options and what else we can do.” do,” the spokesman said in a statement last Thursday, noting that the United States hopes that Ukrainians want to stay in neighboring countries or in the European Union.

For his part, the Democratic representative of New York, Tom Suozzi, plans to ask the administration on Monday to grant tourist visas to Ukrainians who want to travel to the United States. But this also has its difficulties.

To obtain a tourist visa, Ukrainians must apply for it, get an appointment at a US consulate and prove that they are coming to the US for a short period of time, a requirement established by law.

Marina Shepelsky, an immigration attorney who works with Ukrainian clients, told CNN that some people have been successful in obtaining a tourist visa, but demand has been a challenge.

“It’s very difficult. It’s always been difficult to get the tourist visa period, but now there are so many people applying, they really have to choose,” Shepelsky said.

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