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Posted by Kathleen Benckendorf

What is Uniting for Ukraine (U4U) and How You Can Help

October 11, 2022

Floods. Earthquakes. War. How often do you hear about natural disasters and humanitarian needs around the world and wish you could help? You can donate money, and there’s always a great need for that, but have you ever wished for a closer connection?

With the war in Ukraine, the US government created the Uniting for Ukraine (U4U) program where US citizens can sponsor Ukrainians to enter the US while their country is in turmoil. The U4U program provides for a two year stay in the US and no path to citizenship at this time. Either of those could change in the future.

The official part of sponsorship takes about 30 minutes of paperwork per person sponsored. The sponsor completes the I-134 form online and attaches several documents (birth certificate, passport, or other documentation showing citizenship or immigration status of the sponsor; most recent tax return; a recent bank account statement). In spite of requiring those financial documents, the I-134 is not a contract and is not legally enforceable. There is even a place in the form to indicate whether or not you plan to provide financial support, and you can specify room and board, or other items, or nothing.

The sponsor may choose to both sponsor and host the Ukrainian newcomer (officially called a “beneficiary”), or the Ukrainian may already plan to stay with friends or family already in the US. There is no requirement that the beneficiary live with the host. Hosting may include providing lodging, transportation, groceries, and other needs while the Ukrainians gets established in a new area. It may also include helping with paperwork and appointments: the newcomers are eligible for SNAP (food stamps), Medicaid, and other government programs. They will likely want to attend local English classes. They may need help submitting their work permit request forms – work permits are typically taking 1-3 months from submission of the request.

Hallam-ICS Social Mission

I volunteer with North America for Ukraine; we match those who want to sponsor with Ukrainians needing a sponsor. Ric and I have also sponsored and/or hosted several individuals. We started with a father-daughter duo who have since moved on; the father has his work permit and they are already independent of us. We sponsored a family of four who are living with friends or family; we have never met them, but we’re glad they’re out of harm’s way. We’re currently hosting a father and adult son whose original sponsor became unable to host them, and we’re sponsoring another adult son in the family whose arrival date is TBD. And we’re sponsoring another Ukrainian man who arrives October 5. (That will make our household total Ric and me, our adult son, one Ukrainian family of three guys, and another Ukrainian guy. That’s full capacity for us!)

We’ve met some wonderful people in our local (and growing) Ukrainian community. We’ve eaten some amazing food (our current guest, Sasha, is a wonderful cook). And we’re absolutely thrilled to know that we’re helping in a meaningful way.

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About the author

After earning Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis, I worked as an HVAC design engineer, project manager, and fell into pharmaceutical systems validation by accident, as do most of us who work in validation. That has been the focus of my career for many years now, often with a side of project management. These days, I work on a project basis.

Ric and I have been married since 1987, and we’ve always had open doors. Ours is the party house where friends gather. We adopted a sibling group of four children in addition to our two biological children. Six kids born from 1988 through 1995 – there were a bunch of years with a LOT of teenagers in the house! We hosted two AFS exchange students from South America in two different years. We hosted three different Asian college students during holidays when the dorms closed. Currently, we’re hosting Ukrainian refuges under the Uniting for Ukraine program. Our children are grown and we have bedrooms available, so why not fill them with people who really need them?

We’ve fostered many dogs, but we’re currently holding at two permanent dogs, both rescues – Killian, an Irish setter / Moyen poodle cross, and Sparky, who is ¾ hound dog (3 types) and two very random others.


About Hallam-ICS

Hallam-ICS is an engineering and automation company that designs MEP systems for facilities and plants, engineers control and automation solutions, and ensures safety and regulatory compliance through arc flash studies, commissioning, and validation. Our offices are located in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Vermont and North Carolina and our projects take us world-wide.

Topics: Social Mission

Kathleen Benckendorf

By Kathleen Benckendorf October 11, 2022

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