BOISE, Idaho — Millions of people have fled the warzone in Ukraine leaving behind their homes and their home country.
The vast majority have found refuge in Poland; however, some have relocated right here in the Gem State under Humanitarian Parole status.
Humanitarian Parole is a temporary status that allows the recipient to live and work in the United States for about a year without a visa. The person receiving the status must have a personal connection - like a family member - in the United States to qualify.
However, Humanitarian Parole has limitations beyond that of traditional refugee status. People arriving in the United States under Humanitarian Parole do not qualify for the refugee resettlement program, according to the Idaho Office of Refugees (IOR) Communication Specialist Holly Beech.
The program provides refugees with benefits and programs to help them get on their feet, find housing and establish themselves in a new country.
Non-profit Idaho Alliance for Ukrainian Refugees and Immigrants (IAURI) is now working with IOR to provide similar benefits to Ukrainian people arriving in Idaho under Humanitarian Parole.
"The American Dream is really possible," IAURI Director of Outreach Tina Polishchuk said. "We're just eager to be involved and lend a helping hand."
People seek out a Humanitarian Parole option because it is often faster than waiting for official refugee status; that's a process that can take up to two years, according to Polishchuk.
The idea behind Humanitarian Parole is to provide the recipient with a temporary timeline to set up a permanent plan; however, making that plan is difficult without assistance, Polishchuk said.
"When we meet families, we first identify what are their immediate needs. Do they have clothing? Do they have food? Do they have immediate shelter or a roof over their heads?" Polishchuk said.
IAURI connects local Ukrainian families under Humanitarian Parole with local resources and also builds on what is currently available. They seek to provide assistance with transportation, translation services, applications for employment, and funds to acquire long-term housing.
The non-profit also works to connect Idahoans interested in being a host family with Ukrainian people needing a place to live. The application process on both ends of the host family system is vetted, Polishchuk said.
IAURI currently works with four Ukrainian families. They expect around 60 families to relocate to Idaho from Ukraine over the next six months, according to Polishchuk.
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