Welcoming Individuals and Families from Afghanistan and Ukraine
There are 27 million refugees worldwide and only about .05% will be resettled by a developed country like the U.S. Most will spend years in refugee camps disconnected from family, friends, home and life as they have known it because of threats to their safety. The recent tragedies in Ukraine and Afghanistan remind us of the opportunity we have here at home to help refugees in our communities and neighborhoods build a new life.
As of August 31, 2021, the U.S. quickly evacuated more than 65,000 Afghans from Afghanistan. This group includes individuals who worked alongside the U.S. and our allies as translators and interpreters as well as their family members.
Utah was one of the first states to reach out to President Biden and offer support. As a result, between October 2021 and February 2022, we have resettled just over 900 Afghan arrivals. This group is composed mostly of humanitarian parolees who were allowed to enter the country because of their vulnerabilities. They will receive supportive services and access to mainstream refugee benefits for up to two years. They can apply for permanent asylee status during that time.
Resettlement and Community Involvement
We are grateful for the support of Governor Spencer J. Cox and the generous outpouring from community members interested in helping Afghans. All of the Afghan arrivals are now in permanent housing and working to become established in the community.
International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Catholic Community Services (CCS) provide initial resettlement services to newly arrived refugees, including Afghan arrivals. The agency’s responsibilities include picking them up at the airport, providing housing, furniture and food, initial orientation and additional services. Their support is ongoing for the first three months and in some cases up to six months.
To assist with current needs and ongoing refugee resettlement, please support Utah’s resettlement agencies:
- International Rescue Committee (IRC):
Contact IRC at firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-328-1091.
- Catholic Community Services (CCS):
Contact CCS at email@example.com or 801-977-9119.
You can help new arrivals by volunteering to help with job skills training, English learning, mentorship and other support. The Know Your Neighbor program is a partnership between the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office of Equity and Inclusion and the State Refugee Services Office. Learn more and sign up at www.slc.gov/equity/know-your-neighbor/.
The next phase of Afghan resettlement includes assisting arrivals with education, training and employment. This group includes individuals with unique talents, abilities and life experiences that will help fill much needed job vacancies in the state.
Afghans arrived in Utah with permission to work and we are helping them find good jobs through the Refugee Services Office. English language skills are a critical tool for success and our job skills training all include English learning.
The Refugee Services Office (RSO) through the state of Utah provides funding for case management support for up to two years, which is provided by IRC and CCS. Refugees can access services funded through the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR in the Office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). The Refugee Services Office manages the distribution of funding, which pays for English language learning, support to schools, youth mentoring and medical support. The Refugee Services Office also offers refugees access to training and education, employment and career assistance, support for refugee community organizations, a gathering place at the Utah Refugee Center and licensed clinical social workers for ongoing mental health assistance. The Utah Refugee Center also provides walk-in support for any services refugees might need.
Since war broke out in Ukraine, the U.S. has committed to resettle 100,000 individuals over the coming year. While many Ukrainians choose to remain in Europe with the hopes of eventually returning home, Ukrainians coming to Utah will likely have a personal connection to someone already here.
The pace, scale and logistics of Ukrainian arrivals will differ from Afghan arrivals even though both are considered humanitarian parolees. Ukrainians will qualify for most traditional refugee benefits but will need to apply for work authorization when they arrive.
Utah’s Ukrainian Resource Guide provides information on how to navigate systems and services for Ukrainian humanitarian parolees and sponsors.
- Українці Юти Довідкова інформація (Ukrainian)
- Руководство по ресурсам штата Юта для украинцев (Russian)
Uniting for Ukraine
Uniting for Ukraine was launched by the U.S. government to provide a way for displaced Ukrainians to come to the U.S. through a sponsor for up to two years. This model will allow Ukrainian humanitarian parolees to resettle in the U.S. with the help of individual sponsors while the established humanitarian parolee pathway will continue to support Afghan arrivals.
U.S.-based sponsors begin the application process by completing a Form I-134 Affidavit of
Support online at https://www.uscis.gov/i-134.
- be U.S.-based individuals in lawful status, or have parole, deferred action (such as beneficiaries of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), or Deferred Enforced Departure
- pass security and background vetting
- demonstrate sufficient financial resources to “receive, maintain, and support” the Ukrainians they commit to support for two years
An organization may provide financial support for Ukrainian seeking parole, but an individual
must sign Form I-134 as the sponsor. Find legal assistance for completing the I-134 on the Utah Bar’s referral service.
Once USCIS reviews and approves the sponsor’s completed form, Ukrainian beneficiaries will
receive an email with instructions to set up an account on my.USCIS.gov and other next steps. There is no application fee.
Learn more at dhs.gov/ukraine.
Get connected with a Ukrainian family at ukraine.welcome.us/.
Ukraine Temporary Protective Status (TPS) and Asylum tools are available in English and Ukrainian at www.sixfifty.com/ukraine.