Becoming a sponsor under the Uniting for Ukraine program

I want to share my experience with becoming a sponsor to spread the word about the program and, hopefully, help some prospective sponsors to decide to support more Ukrainians with their move to the United States. I have sponsored eight people in total: two separate families. One family has decided to move to a different state to live with their relatives and friends. The second family is currently planning their travel to the United States and will stay with us during the first weeks (or months) before they settle in and become financially independent. Most Ukrainians interested in this program require very little financial support.

Sponsoring is easy, applications are processed within a few days and, once approved, supported individuals can travel to the United States within 90 days and start working immediately.

What is the Uniting for Ukraine program?

The Biden administration launched the Uniting for Ukraine (U4U) program in April 2022. This program provides a pathway for Ukrainian citizens and their immediate family members who are outside of the United States to come to the Unites States and stay for up to two years. Since November 2022, Ukrainians paroled into the United States under the U4U program are immediately authorized to work. More information about this program can be found here:

Ukrainians who wish to participate in this program must have a supporter in the United States, also called a sponsor, who agrees to provide them with financial support for the duration of their stay in the United States. The program does not specify how much money should a supporter spend to financially support the beneficiary or what is the minimum support required under the program.

The benefits of becoming a sponsor are clear. You get to help refugees fleeing the war. It is hard to imagine a more impactful way to help Ukrainian citizens in this senseless Russian invasion.

What are the risks of becoming a sponsor?

Before I was ready to commit to become a sponsor, my primary concerns were related to the financial and legal exposure created by me signing the declaration of support (Form I-134 Affidavit of Support). Greg McLawsen, Affidavit of Support Lawyer, argues that sponsors cannot be sued under the I-134 Affidavit of Support. He explains that the Form I-134 is not enforceable and signing the Form I-134 does not create an obligation to cover any hospital or medical bills, the cost of Medicaid or public benefits or other financial costs requested by the sponsored individual. Sponsors should not delay their decisions to sponsor Ukrainians based on their worries about legal consequences. The legal side of sponsoring is discussed in more detail by Greg McLawsen here.

When filing the Form I-134A Affidavit of Support for U4U, what does a sponsor agrees to?

I made screenshots of the declaration that the sponsor makes when signing each Form I-134A. The most important section of the declaration is the following:

“I am willing and able to receive, maintain, and support the person named under the About Beneficiary section to better ensure that such persons will have sufficient financial resources or financial support to pay for necessary expenses for the period of his or her temporary stay in the United States.”

The Affidavit of Support for U4U was updated in January 2023. The new form now includes the words: better ensure, indicating that the sponsor does not face legal risks.

The full declaration is attached to the end of this post.

How can I apply to become a sponsor?

You must complete and file the Form I-134A, Online Request to be a Supporter and Declaration of Financial Support: The USCIS only accepts online submissions. The process is easy, and you should be able to complete this firm yourself, without the help of an experienced immigration professional. There is no fee for filing this form. If you have all information and documentation ready, the form takes about 15-30 minutes to complete.

What documentation do I need?

You must provide evidence that you have sufficient income to support the individuals wishing to enter the United States under the U4U program. I submitted the latest tax return, a statement from a bank officer stating when the bank account was created, its current balance and the total balance deposited in previous year. I also submitted an employment verification letter and a total compensation statement from the previous year. USCIS verifies that the sponsor has a legal status in the United States. I submitted a copy of my green card as a proof of immigration status.

What information is requested in the online form?

You are asked to provide information about the Beneficiary (the individual receiving the financial support), which includes their full legal name, other names used, date of birth, sex, place of birth, country of citizenship, passport number, country that issued the most recently issued passport, expiration date for the passport, marital status, current mailing and physical address, and the beneficiary’s anticipated length of stay in the United States. You are also asked to provide information about the beneficiary’s income (I did not include any information in this section when submitting the forms).

Next, you provide information about yourself, which includes your full legal name, any previous names, mailing and physical address, date of birth, place of birth, Alien Registration Number (if applicable), USCIS online account number (if known), social security number, and relationship to the beneficiary (filled as Not Specified, if you do not have any family connections with the beneficiary). You also answer questions about your immigration status, employment status, current employment positions, employer’s address, total income, and total value of assets. (I have only provided information about income from employment. I did not declare any assets.)

Next, you list all other beneficiaries that you have already submitted a Form I-134A for.

Lastly, you are asked to describe your intent to provide specific contributions to the beneficiary. This part includes three sections:

  1. You are responsible for receiving, maintaining, and supporting the beneficiary for the duration of their temporary stay in the United States. Describe the resources you plan to use or provide to ensure the beneficiary has adequate financial support to cover their basic living needs.
  2. You are responsible for ensuring that the beneficiary has safe and appropriate housing for the duration of their parole in the United States. Describe how you will ensure that the beneficiary’s housing needs are met, including where the beneficiary will reside during their temporary stay in the United States, if known.
  3. You are responsible for assisting the beneficiary’s access to available services and benefits such as learning English, securing employment opportunities once authorized to work, enrolling children in school, and helping to enroll for benefits for which they are eligible. Describe what steps you plan to take as part of these responsibilities.

In this last section of the online form, I briefly described which resources I will use to provide support to the beneficiary. I included information about housing options that are available to the beneficiary, free of charge, at our property. I summarized how I will help the beneficiary to apply for the social security card, search for employment opportunities and connect them with our local community to learn the language.

What types of support can sponsors expect to provide to the supported individuals?

Each supporters’s and beneficiary’s circumstances are different. It is encouraged, when possible, that the sponsor offers helps with the following:

  1. Receiving the beneficiary when they arrive in the United States and transporting them to initial housing;
  2. Ensuring that the beneficiary has safe and appropriate housing for the duration of their parole, as well as initial basic necessities;
  3. As appropriate, helping the beneficiary complete necessary paperwork such as for employment authorization, a Social Security card, and other services for which they may be eligible;
  4. Ensuring that the beneficiary’s health care and medical needs are met for the duration of the parole; and
  5. As appropriate, assisting the beneficiary with accessing education, learning English, securing employment, and enrolling children in school.
Where can you find an individual who needs sponsoring?

You can register to be a host to a Ukrainian refugee on one of the volunteering websites, such as Or you can find someone to sponsor on social media. For example, there are several pages on Facebook where Ukrainians ask for help in finding a US-based sponsor.

Form I-134A Declaration of Support: Online version of the form from January 18, 2023.

Declaration of support
Declaration of support
Declaration of support