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Understanding Uniting For Ukraine and the I-134 Affidavit Declaration of Support

Updated: Dec 6, 2022


U.S. Plans To Welcome 100,000 Fleeing Ukrainians


If you bring over a spouse (IR1 or CR1) or apply for a fiancée (K1), child, daughter, or relative, the I-864 form is a mandatory part of those processes. U.S. binding contract between the Sponsor and the United States government. The Sponsor promises to provide financial support to the intending immigrant and repay the Government for the cost of any public benefits provided to the immigrant.


Uniting For Ukraine does not rely on that binding affidavit of a financial support contract. Instead, the document is the I-134 affidavit declaration of financial support.

This document is not a binding contract and is not enforceable against the person who signs it. You should not feel reluctant to enter the program over concerns that the affidavit will be enforced against you as a contract.


The whole reason that the binding affidavit of support contract now exists under immigration law is that Congress became frustrated that this old form of the affidavit (the I-134) was not enforceable. So, in 1996, Congress said that the I-134 was unenforceable, so there was a need to create an enforceable version to be used in family-sponsored cases so that the Sponsor could be held contractually liable for their responsibilities (I-864).


On the I-134 form, the Sponsor writes the type of support provided to the immigrant.

This is a 13-page government form. There is also an 8-page set of instructions that accompanies the form. (both attached)



Any U.S. person can serve as a sponsor, needing only to qualify by demonstrating the financial ability and willingness to support Ukrainian refugees. The U.S. Sponsor will need to gather proof of income and assets.



So, suppose a sponsor signs up for Uniting For Ukraine, and the State gets the person into appropriate English language education, work or social or medical care. In that case, the Sponsor cannot be sued by the Beneficiary for not having done that, or if the Beneficiary takes public benefits, the Sponsor cannot be sued for its cost.



I am not saying for a moment that you sign up for this program without being serious about contributing to it. And I believe most people interested in signing up do so with great intentions.


You do not need to be worried about the serious downside risks of being sued by the Government or the person benefiting from the program.

That liability does not exist under form I-134 because it is not an enforceable contract. The enforceable version (The I-864 form) is not used in Uniting For Ukraine program.





The basic steps for obtaining approval:


1 Fill the Form I-134 of financial declaration with USCIS. The agency may accept the declaration as is, issue a request for additional evidence, or even require attending an interview.


2 After the declaration is accepted as sufficient; the Sponsor will be scheduled to take biometrics. This is for the Government to determine that the Sponsor has nothing adverse in their past, indicating not being a law-abiding citizen.


3 USCIS will next notify the Ukrainian Beneficiary that the sponsorship has been accepted and that they should submit the required information. That will include a valid Ukrainian passport, as the Ukrainian Beneficiary will also need to be physically present in Ukraine until February 11, 2022.


4 The Ukrainian Beneficiary will also be required to pass specific background and biometric checks and submit proof of required vaccinations, such as first doses of measles, polio, and COVID-19 vaccines, plus pass a tuberculosis screening.


5 If the Ukrainian Beneficiary completes those requirements, he or she will be notified by USCIS that they have been authorized to travel to the U.S. That authorization will be valid for 90 days, and they will need to arrange their own commercial flights to the U.S.


6 Finally, when arriving at any U.S. airport, a Customs and Border Protection officer will interview them, who will consider whether they qualify to be paroled into the United States. Parole is a status which is non-status but allows a person to remain physically present in the U.S. for an initial period of up to two years.

 


Which benefits can the Beneficiary receive/apply from the U.S. Government?


The U.S. Senate passed (last May 21.) the Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2022, https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/7691/text giving Ukrainians who fled the war and began arriving in the U.S. vital public services and support.


The act expanded the benefits' eligibility for Ukrainians entering the “U.S. to apply for federal public benefits like Medicaid and food assistance.


They're also eligible to receive services provided by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, such as employment and educational programs (i.e. learning the English language).


Ukrainian or non-Ukrainian individuals who last habitually resided in Ukraine and have been granted humanitarian parole may be eligible for the following:

  • Federal “mainstream” (non-ORR funded) benefits, such as cash assistance through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

  • Health insurance through Medicaid.

  • Food assistance through Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

They may also be eligible for medical assistance, employment preparation, job placement, English language training, and other services offered through the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).


Where to apply for ORR benefits/services after arriving in the U.S.?


Beginning on May 21, 2022, or the date the Beneficiary received humanitarian parole, whichever is later, he or she can apply at the state government benefits office or closest resettlement agency in the residing state.

View the ORR state program directory for a state-by-state listing of local resettlement agencies, including a link to ORR state contacts: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/orr/map/find-resources-and-contacts-your-state.



When should the Beneficiary apply for ORR benefits/services?


Now. ORR-funded cash and medical assistance are limited to 12 months from the Beneficiary (refugee) eligibility date (May 21, 2022, or the date the Beneficiary received humanitarian parole, whichever is later).

Most ORR employment services and other services aimed at economic self-sufficiency will be available to you until the end of your parole term or until five years from your date of humanitarian parole, whichever is sooner.

FOR MORE DETAILS REGARDING ORR BENEFITS/SERVICES, GO TO:




Does separate I-134 have to be filled for each person, including dependents/kids?

· Form I-134 instructions, page 1: If you agree to support more than one Beneficiary financially, you must submit a separate Declaration of Financial Support

Form I-134 for each Beneficiary.

Each immediate family member/dependent (including kids) is a “separate beneficiary/applicant.”


Can minors be included on the I-134 as dependents in Part 2, line 17 of the form?

· According to I-134 instructions, minors need a separate I-134 form separated from their parents as any other family member or acquainted person. Check in the attachment “Official USCIS I-134 instructions.”


Is the Sponsor of Uniting For Ukraine liable for medical costs?

· The answer is no. Under the binding affidavit of support used in the United For Ukraine program, the I-134 form does not have broad liability or include medical bills.


Suppose a parolee ends up in a situation where they have medical expenses. In that case, there's no legal basis for the hospital, the Federal Government, or the state government to come after you as the Sponsor and waive responsibilities. They can't use the fact you are a Sponsor as a liability, even if the Beneficiary signs up for Medicaid or any other state-sponsored medical benefits.

In the instructions (attached below), you can find a list of things you can put on the form as to what support you'll provide.


What would be the minimum obligation of a Sponsor, according to the I-134 form—if financially supporting a beneficiary is not enforceable?

· Well, it's simply that the obligation under the I-134 is basically a moral obligation rather than an enforceable legal obligation. Most U4U sponsors probably really want to help people; it's just that in legal assessment, they can't be sued by the parolees they sponsor under the I-134 form.


Can another sponsor replace an I-134 Sponsor after some time passes?

· There's no procedure to allow this. But it's an academic point, since the I-134 isn't enforceable. Someone may jump in and help the parolee sometime down the line as a practical matter. You wouldn't need to formalize this with USCIS.


 

Some questions have not yet been answered:

  • Will there be a limit on how many refugees can be sponsored by each “Financial Sponsor?

  • What amounts, measured in income and/or assets, will be deemed sufficient to allow the “U.S. sponsor to serve as the financial Sponsor?

  • How long does OOR take to approve employment applications?

  • How non-Ukrainian individuals who resided in Ukraine have been or will be granted humanitarian parole by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.



i-134
.pdf
Download PDF • 553KB

Official USCIS I-134 instructions
.pdf
Download PDF • 642KB

 





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