Ukraine

Many Refugees Waiting on Approval Through Newly Launched ‘Uniting for Ukraine' Program

Although the program is supposed to streamline the process for refugees, it’s proving to be slow and confusing for some

NBC Universal, Inc.

Victoria Ivanova’s parents are still waiting for their ‘Uniting for Ukraine’ application to be approved. NBC 7’s Madison Weil spoke to Ivanova for more.

Ukrainians are no longer crossing at the U.S.-Mexico border after a new program was created to allow those fleeing their war-torn country to seek refuge in the U.S. directly from Europe.

The formal program called Uniting for Ukraine, is designed to streamline the process for refugees, but t’s proving to be slow and confusing for some. 

Victoria Ivanova just traveled from her home in San Diego to help evacuate her parents out of their home in Ukraine. 

“You never know. You never know what could happen,” said Ivanova. 

They took a train together to Poland. Just a day after they evacuated, their hometown near Kyiv was bombed.

“That was heartbreaking. I guess it was a good time we left.” 

Ivanova wanted to bring her parents safely to the U.S. They filled out their Uniting for Ukraine application, but like many, they’re still waiting on full approval. 

“They’re waiting and they’re in limbo. It’s a little bit painful and nerve-wracking,” she said.

Ivanova, a mother of two, had to return to San Diego without them. She said it was devastating to leave her parents in a center for refugees along with her sister, but no one has been able to give them an estimate on when they might be approved. 

“Is it going to take a month? Two weeks? What if it’s going to take 60 days?” said Jacob Sapochnik, a local immigration attorney. 

Sapochnik says U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services hasn’t provided a timeline for any of his Ukrainian clients either. 

“In the meantime what if people are displaced from their homes and they don’t know what to do and they’re running out of money,” he said. 

Sapochnik says he recognizes the program is new, he just hopes it ultimately yields what it has promised. 

NBC 7 has reached out to U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services for an update on approvals for the program and awaiting a response. 

There are certain requirements to be accepted under the program including having a sponsor here in the U.S. Applicants also have to pass background checks and meet certain health criteria.