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Biden administration details plan to welcome Ukrainian refugees

The Biden administration on Thursday announced the creation of a new program called "Uniting for Ukraine," under which the U.S. will admit Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion, The Washington Post reports.

President Biden in March pledged to welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees into the U.S., but "the administration has not offered clear guidance on the process until now," the Post writes. Meanwhile, roughly 15,000 Ukrainians have arrived at the U.S-Mexico border over the last three months, hoping to gain entry to the country that way.

Under "Uniting for Ukraine," most refugees will be granted "humanitarian parole" and be permitted to stay in the U.S. for up to two years, so long as they have an in-country sponsor willing to support them. Officials also "plan to expand permanent legal pathways under the existing refugee program," the Post writes. The Department of Homeland Security added that anyone who arrives at U.S. ports or borders without a valid visa will be denied entry starting next week. It also encouraged refugees without or ineligible for visas to henceforth "seek entry via Uniting for Ukraine from Europe."

Notably, Ukrainians themselves cannot apply for the program directly. Rather, once the program is up and running, "U.S.-based individuals and entities" — such as family members or churches — can apply with the DHS to sponsor refugees. Only Ukrainians who lived in Ukraine as of Feb. 11 are eligible for the program, and they must also submit to required vaccinations and clear background checks, per the Post.

The administration hasn't yet said how Ukrainians without familial ties in the U.S. can be connected with an organization willing to sponsor them, but officials have alluded to the possibility of some sort of matching program.

Also on Thursday, Biden announced another $800 million aid package for Ukraine, this one with heavy artillery and ammunition, CNN reports.