Ukrainian Arrivals

Refugee Programs Bureau (RPB)

Introduction

The State of California welcomes Ukrainian newcomers and stands in solidarity as they arrive and integrate into Californian communities. This information is intended to help Ukrainian families and service providers access existing state program resources.

For over a decade, the State of California has been one of the primary destinations for Ukrainian newcomers resettling in the United States. California continues to welcome Ukrainian arrivals, including those seeking refuge from the recent military conflict in Ukraine.

Since many Ukrainians are arriving outside the federal refugee resettlement system, the state will support these newcomers by continuing to provide technical assistance to County Welfare Departments, refugee-serving organizations, and other community service partners, and in coordinating public assistance programs and services that support resettlement and integration in California.

The federal government is the lead agency responsible for international diplomatic and humanitarian support. The arrival process for Ukrainian arrivals is coordinated and led by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office Refugee Resettlement.

President Biden announced on April 21, 2022, that 100,000 people forced to flee Ukraine will be able to seek safe haven in the United States. Effective April 25, 2022, these individuals can apply to come to the U.S. under a government program known as “Uniting for Ukraine” which will be administered by DHS, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), through an online portal.  Coming to the U.S. through this pathway requires support from a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or other legally-residing individual or sponsor – including representatives of non-governmental organizations. On May 21, 2022, President Biden signed into law the “Additional Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2022” which provides emergency funds to support the Ukrainian people.

Federal and State Benefits

Ukrainians are expected to enter the United States with many different immigration statuses. The federal government issued Policy Letter 22-13, which provides specific guidance regarding public benefit eligibility for Ukrainians. Counties should follow the new guidance when determining the eligibility of Ukrainian humanitarian parolees for public benefits. The Refugee Program Bureau will provide additional training and technical assistance to the counties. Dates will be announced soon.

Please note that many Ukrainians are expected to receive humanitarian parole. The chart below provides an overview of benefit eligibility, including for individuals entering with humanitarian parole:

  • ACIN I-40-22 - Eligibility of Ukrainian Nationals for Federal and State Benefits.
  • ACIN I-40-22E - Erratum to Attachment A of the ACIN I-40-22 Regarding Benefits Eligibility for Ukrainian Arrivals in California.
  • Ukrainian humanitarian parolees who have children may be eligible for state-funded CalWORKs (cash assistance and services). 
      Although there are currently no state or federal cash programs for Ukrainian humanitarian parolees without children, the county may provide General Assistance/General Relief for those who meet eligibility requirements.
  • Ukrainians with humanitarian parole may be eligible for CalFresh or the California Food Assistance Program. Direct food assistance is available through local food banks.
  • Aged, blind, and disabled individuals with humanitarian parole may be eligible for the Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants.
  • Ukrainian arrivals may also be eligible for state-funded, county-administered housing and homeless assistance programs (eligibility based on level of risk for homelessness).

For eligibility determinations related to Medi-CAL, please see the Medi-Cal Eligibility Division Information Letter No.: I 22-16, released by the Department of Health Care Services. 

Benefits Eligibility for Ukrainian Arrivals in California

Categories ORR Services (RCA) CalWORKs SSI/SSP[1] CAPI CalFresh CFAP
Refugee Yes Yes Yes No Yes No
Asylee Yes Yes Yes No Yes No
Humanitarian Parolee under 212 (d)(5) (less than 1 year) No Yes
State-funded
 
No Maybe No Maybe[2]
Humanitarian Parolee under 212 (d)(5) (1 year or longer) No Yes
State-funded
No Yes Maybe Maybe
Sponsored
Non-citizen (LPR)
No Yes
State-funded[3],[4]
Maybe Maybe Maybe Maybe
Non-immigrant Visa Holder – e.g. visitor, student, worker, or other temporary visas
 
No No No No No No
Pregnant Non-citizen Mothers in 2nd Trimester (1st Trimester effective
July 1, 2022)
 
No Yes
State-funded[3]
Maybe Maybe Maybe Maybe
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) No No No No No No
Asylum Applicant No No No Maybe (possible PRUCOL)[5] No No
 
[1] SSI/SSP is a federally administered program and all final eligibility determinations are made by the Social Security Administration.
[2] While accumulating five years of residency the Parolee paroled under 212 (d)(5) for one year or longer may qualify for state funded CFAP benefits.
[3] The income and assets of the Sponsor have to be considered as part of eligibility determination (see MPP 43-119.22)
[4] May be federally funded if they meet certain exception criteria.
[5] Those who have applied for asylum and do not have removal orders may be considered PRUCOL and be eligible for CAPI per ACIN I-79-16.
 
Finally, please note that participation in certain benefits, particularly cash aid, may subject some categories of immigrants to public charge. Individuals may consult an immigration attorney to learn more about the implications of public benefits participation. A list of State-funded organizations can be found here.

Public Charge

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) do NOT consider health, food, and housing services as part of the public charge determination. This means many government funded benefits and services are safe to use.

MANY IMMIGRANTS SHOULD NOT WORRY ABOUT PUBLIC CHARGE. Most immigrants are NOT subject to public charge! The rule is mainly applied to people seeking admission (Visa) into the United States or applying to adjust their status (to get a Green Card) through a family-based petition. Public charge does NOT apply to: ● Lawful permanent residents (LPRs) with green cards when they apply for U.S. citizenship or renew their green cards. ● Refugees, Asylees, Temporary Protected Status applicants, DACA applicants or recipients seeking renewal, Special Immigrant Juveniles, asylum applicants, and certain victims of crime, including domestic violence and human trafficking.

WHAT IS THE PUBLIC CHARGE RULE TODAY? Public charge is defined as a non-citizen who is likely to become primarily dependent on the government for support, by receiving either: ● cash assistance for income maintenance (like CalWORKs, SSI, and General Relief/Assistance), OR ● being institutionalized for long-term care at government expense.

EVERY FAMILY IS DIFFERENT, SO REACH OUT FOR QUALIFIED LEGAL ADVICE.

  • The public charge rule does NOT apply to every immigrant.
  • Getting government funded benefits alone does NOT make you a public charge.
  • Government funded benefits received by your children and family members do NOT make you a public charge.
  • Most people with green cards are NOT subject to the public charge rule.

Volunteer, Donation, and Informational Opportunities

For additional information about volunteer and donation opportunities related to the Ukrainian humanitarian crisis, please see the resources below:
  • Welcome.US announces the DHS “Uniting for Ukraine” program by providing additional information in this explainer.  Also included are FAQs to support greater understanding and awareness about the new sponsorship program.
  • The U.S. Department of State partnered with GoFundMe to create a fundraiser to solicit donations for non-profit organizations helping Ukrainians obtain access to shelter, food, medical services, education, and psychosocial support.
  • USAID’s Center for International Disaster Information website provides additional information about opportunities to support organizations responding in the Ukraine.
  • Those wishing to help Ukrainian refugees who have already been resettled in the U.S. via the Lautenberg Program can contact their local resettlement agencies in California.
  • We encourage those who are interested in assisting to visit the U.S. Department of State’s “United with Ukraine” website.

If you are interested in donating to organizations serving Ukrainians, please review the Office of the Attorney General’s guidance on how to avoid charity fraud or scams.