Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQs

Is WelcomeNST a 501(c)3?
Yes! WelcomeNST is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.


How is WelcomeNST funded?
WelcomeNST is funded through private grants from organizations like The Shapiro Foundation and Welcome.us. All of
WelcomeNST’s operating expenses are currently paid from these grants.


What percent of funds raised is directly used to help refugees?
Neighborhood support teams raise their funds independently by reaching out to their community. Every dollar a Neighborhood
Support Team receives will be used to directly support the refugee family they are welcoming. It is important to note that fundraising
platforms (such as GoFundMe or Classy) will charge their own transaction fees when donations are made. However, WelcomeNST
does not take any portion of donated funds to pay for company operating expenses.


Where does WelcomeNST fit in the big picture of resettlement?
WelcomeNST mentors community teams who are working to help a refugee family resettle in their area. Our non-profit guides these
groups as they prepare to apply to support a family. WelcomeNST is able to assist teams welcoming newcomers primarily through
Uniting for Ukraine or the Sponsor Circles program.


What is your goal as an organization? Why should I volunteer with you?
As thousands of families have landed on American soil seeking refuge from Afghanistan and Ukraine in these last months alone -
only to be met with an overwhelmed resettlement system - communities have joined the ranks of first responders by opening their
homes, wallets and lives to welcome the stranger. WelcomeNST is all about unleashing the power of community on the refugee
crisis because we believe that the answer to this crisis lies in the unlimited potential of communities to help their neighbors.


What does WelcomeNST actually do?
We engage communities in the U.S. to:


1. Form Neighborhood Support Teams (NSTs) to sponsor and welcome Ukrainian and Afghan families to America.
2. Help “Rebuild Ukraine”, starting with families in Ukraine that don’t have the financial ability to rebuild their homes damaged
by war. Repairing their homes now will prevent them from being forced to flee as refugees as the winter months set in.
In every scenario, we connect you directly with the families you are serving.


What is an NST?
A “Neighborhood Support Team,” or NST, is a volunteer group of 20-30 people who work together to welcome a refugee family into
their community. Each NST has two team leads who coordinate the efforts, and teams are organized by interest into subcommittees
of people who fill specific roles (e.g., benefits, education, employment, etc.). NSTs officially commit to helping a family through their
first six months of resettlement, but the friendships formed may last a lifetime.


How do I learn more about forming or volunteering with an NST?
Register for one of our upcoming NST 101 sessions
Register for one of our upcoming Global NST 101 sessions


I just want to help! Where do you need me most?
Help is most needed in three areas:

1. Form an NST to welcome a refugee family in your community! Start by registering for an upcoming NST 101 session
2. Form a Global NST to raise money to help a family in Ukraine rebuild their damaged home. Start by registering for an
upcoming NST 101 session

3. Donate to support our NSTs or Global NSTs that are actively working to help refugees


If I’m sponsoring a Ukrainian family, I can fill out the I-134 on my own. Why do I need WelcomeNST?
If you have a specific Ukrainian family that you want to sponsor, you don’t! You can absolutely apply and be approved
independently. With that said, having worked with over 75 teams who have welcomed hundreds of refugees, we have learned that the application part of the process is akin to the delivery of a new child. It’s a big deal, but really just the beginning. We will help you know how to
prepare, organize, staff and fund your team so that you are set up for success after the family arrives.

 

We will also connect you with expert resources that wil provide professional Cultural Orientation and training for your team on important subjects like trauma. These same experts will also be available if unique challenges arise down the road. If you don’t have a specific family that you want to sponsor, but are interested in becoming an NST for a Ukrainian family, the Uniting for Ukraine program (authored by the White House) requires that you name a specific family when you apply. In this case, we will also match you with a family that is seeking refuge in the U.S.


What’s in it for you? Why are your services free?
Our only objective is to engage as many communities as possible in this work because we believe it’s a win-win for everyone,
including our country, and the only way to transform the way resettlement is done in the U.S. That said, helping a family start their
lives over is a big lift. Our role is to find leaders like you, connect you with the need, then set you up for success. We are funded by
donors who believe in you like we do, and in WelcomeNST. As a result, our services are free.

Uniting for Ukraine FAQs 


What is the purpose of the Uniting for Ukraine program?
This program was created to provide a temporary refuge for Ukrainians displaced due to the war.

 

What is the I-134?
A form that was created for a US Citizen who has agreed to temporarily become the financial sponsor for someone arriving on a
tourist or visitor visa to ensure that they will not stay and become a ward of the state.


Can you summarize the process?
1. Identify a Ukrainian individual or family that would like to be sponsored for relocation to the United States
2. Complete the I-134 online, providing information for both the sponsor and the Ukrainian beneficiary
3. USCIS will either approve or deny this application
4. Once approved, the sponsor and beneficiary will work together to arrange travel into the United States
5. The sponsor and team will then work to help the beneficiary family become self-reliant
Note: If your team has not identified a beneficiary family to sponsor, WelcomeNST can assist with a matching process


How complicated is it? What are they asking of me?
The I-134 form is not complicated, but it is thorough. The document requests identifying information about the sponsor and
beneficiary such as birth dates, addresses, and passport numbers.
Additionally, to ensure that the beneficiary family members do not become wards of the state, the I-134 also requests financial
information from the sponsor to prove that the family’s needs will be covered.


What if I want to sponsor a family, but don’t have a specific family in mind?
That’s OK! Utilizing our contacts in Ukraine and surrounding the border, WelcomeNST has a growing list of Ukrainian families
looking to come to the US.


If I do have a specific Ukrainian family in mind, do they need to currently be living in Ukraine?
No. They must be citizens of Ukraine who were living in Ukraine prior to February 11, 2022.


Are Ukrainian parolees required to undergo security vetting and health screenings?
Yes. Applicants for parole undergo these checks prior to arrival in the United States to ensure public safety, public health, and
national security.


If I’m sponsoring a Ukrainian family, I can fill out the I-134 on my own. Why do I need WelcomeNST?
If you have a specific Ukrainian family that you want to sponsor, you don’t! You can absolutely apply and be approved
independently. With that said, having worked with over 75 teams who have welcomed hundreds of refugees, we have learned that the application part of the process is akin to the delivery of a new child. It’s a big deal, but really just the beginning. We will help you know how to
prepare, organize, staff and fund your team so that you are set up for success after the family arrives. We will also connect you
with expert resources that wil provide professional Cultural Orientation and training for your team on important subjects like
trauma. These same experts will also be available if unique challenges arise down the road.


If you don’t have a specific family that you want to sponsor, but are interested in becoming an NST for a Ukrainian family, the
Uniting for Ukraine program (authored by the White House) requires that you name a specific family when you apply. In this case,
we will also match you with a family that is seeking refuge in the U.S.

 


 

Application Process Questions


Does our team need to fill out an I-134 for each member of the beneficiary family?
Yes. Individual I-134 documents will need to be completed. There is a space in the application to note family members who are
also submitting I-134 applications in order to link their files.


Can a team of people act as supporters of a Ukrainian family?
Yes. However, a single individual must sign and take responsibility on the I-134. Resources that will be provided collectively by a
team can be submitted as supplemental. Teams can attach a statement explaining their shared responsibility.


How much financial information do I really need to provide as a sponsor on the I-134?
At the very least, sponsors should document that their income is sufficient to keep their own family plus the additional members of
the beneficiary family above the poverty line. However, until USCIS starts approving or denying applications, we don’t know
exactly where they are drawing the line. Therefore, we recommend listing your other assets as well just to be sure you’re covered.
Take a look at the 2022 poverty guidelines per family size.


Is there a fee to file the I-134?
No. A fee is not required as it has been waived for Uniting for Ukraine.


How long will my application take to be approved?
Based on the best information we have today, the anticipated wait time for approval is 30 days. Interviews and biometric
requirements of beneficiary families may lengthen this time.


Can adults apply as beneficiaries if they do not hold passports?
No. This is a required document to receive approval through Uniting for Ukraine.


Do children need passports?
Concrete information is not currently available on this topic. However, the general thought is that the government will not deny
applications if passports of minors are not provided. Most likely, either children will receive a one-time travel document in order to
enter the United States or a birth certificate should suffice as identification and relationship to parents.


Is it okay to list the beneficiary’s current address even if it is not in Ukraine?
Yes.


Should seniors be counted as dependents if they are in fact dependent on the head-of-household refugee?
Yes.


Who approves the applications?
USCIS is reviewing and approving I-134 applications.

 

 

Benefits and Work Questions


What safety net benefits should beneficiaries apply for once they have arrived?
Currently, families who have arrived as “humanitarian parolees” through the Uniting for Ukraine program are eligible for different
benefits depending on the state they are living in. Generally, beneficiaries can apply for the following government programs:


● Emergency Medicaid, which provides healthcare coverage in the event of a life-threatening event
● Affordable Care Act health insurance plans
● Low-cost healthcare services at community healthcare centers and school-based clinics
● Vaccinations and other health screenings at local public health departments
● Head Start programs for youth; public school enrollment and associated services
● Free and reduced school lunch
● SNAP benefits for children under 18
● Women, Infants and Children (WIC) services and benefits
● Medicaid for pregnant women
● Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
● Workforce and training services at American Job Centers


View the details of each state’s availability of Medicaid or CHIP coverage to children and/or pregnant women.


Can Ukrainian parolees apply for Medicaid, SNAP, or cash assistance programs?
Humanitarian parolees are currently not able to apply for these benefits as adults. However, Medicaid and SNAP are often
available for children and, sometimes, pregnant women. However, we are optimistic that additional benefits, including Medicaid,
will be approved by Congress in the near future (as it was for Afghans).


Will beneficiaries arrive with ‘Right to Work’ documentation?
Currently, no. NSTs will need to assist the family in applying for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). This can be
done by submitting an I-765
. Once approved, the newcomer will receive their EAD in the mail and can then work legally in the
United States. This means there will be a lag between their arrival and ability to work, so teams should plan on that.
We are hopeful that automatic work authorization will be approved by Congress in the near future (as it was for Afghans).

 

 

Other Questions


Who is responsible for travel expenses related to relocating the family to the United States?
The Neighborhood Support Team will be responsible for arranging and paying for travel costs.


Will beneficiaries arrive with social security numbers?
They will not. NSTs can assist the family in applying for SSN by using Part 2 of the I-765 application. We are hopeful that this will
change in the near future.


How long are sponsors committing to officially support the beneficiaries according to the I-134 document?
Sponsorship lasts as long as the humanitarian parole is granted. In the case of Uniting for Ukraine, parole is being granted for 2
years.


As a sponsor, am I actually liable for the beneficiaries I list on the I-134?
The department of homeland security wants to ensure that beneficiaries do not become homeless or wards of the state. For this
reason, the I-134 is meant to be intimidating to ensure sponsors take their responsibility with great care.
The beneficiary has no direct recourse on the sponsor. The government has recourse only if the beneficiary receives specific
government safety net services and decides to pursue a lawsuit to recover money spent on the beneficiary. This situation is
unlikely - still, the risk is not zero.


“[The] Form I-134 is often referred to by legal experts as being “unenforceable,” particularly when compared to its longer-lasting
counterpart, Form I-864, which U.S. citizens and permanent residents submit when sponsoring foreign relatives for a green card.


There are a few reasons why the I-134 is called “unenforceable”:

● Visitors to the U.S. are not eligible for the vast majority of government-sponsored public assistance benefits in the first
place and, if they apply, will in most cases be denied.
● Most government agencies do not have the time or resources to enforce the terms of an I-134, even if a temporary
visitor does obtain public assistance
● The I-134 sponsor is agreeing to support the nonimmigrant for only a limited and specific period of time, so any
potential liability is limited to the planned duration of the visit
● Only USCIS knows who sponsors whom. This is not public information. So if there’s a problem that raises flags around
liability, there’s no way for an insurance company to connect the family with the sponsor.

 

In other words, Form I-134 is mostly bark and very little bite, legally speaking. It is basically used to show immigration officials
that the otherwise possibly indigent noncitizen has a friend in the U.S. earning a respectable income who is willing to take care of
him or her.” (Gasson, K. 2022. Filling out form I-134 affidavit of support to help a U.S. visa applicant. NOLO.) Further reading: McLawsen, G. (2022). No, Uniting for Ukraine Sponsors Cannot Be Sued Under the I-134 Affidavit of Support.

 

Will beneficiaries be assigned to an umbrella resettlement organization or voluntary agency (VOLAG) when they come
into the United States? Will our team be able to receive support from this group?

NSTs are being assigned to umbrella resettlement organizations. WelcomeNST is partnered and connected with multiple
umbrella resettlement agencies. So if the need arises for social services experts, we have access to that support.


Can a sponsor withdraw before the two-year period is complete?
There is currently no process to legally withdraw from sponsorship, but there’s similarly no path to enforce it.


Is there a path for permanent residency or citizenship beyond the two year parole status granted to families through
Uniting for Ukraine?

Pathways have not yet been created for beneficiaries granted parole status through Uniting for Ukraine. However, we are hopeful
that this will change in the near future.


Will the beneficiary family be required to leave the United States when their two-year parole status is up?
Humanitarian parole is a temporary status by definition. Beneficiaries who have not been granted another status--such as
asylum, re-parole, or Temporary Protected Status--are not legally allowed to remain in the United States when their humanitarian
parole period ends.

Who will help our Neighborhood Support Team after the family arrives?

WelcomeNST has partnered with HIAS, a national refugee resettlement umbrella. HIAS will provide direct support to teams should the need arise. HIAS will be an excellent resource for NSTs, providing access to Immigration attorneys, caseworkers, trauma experts, employment specialists, and more. During team preparation, your WelcomeNST mentor will assist your team in completing the necessary steps to link with HIAS for post-arrival support.