North Dakota ready to welcome Ukrainian refugees

Published: May. 10, 2022 at 5:58 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Refugees fleeing Ukraine have started to arrive in the United States thanks to a federal program that provides a pathway for a temporary residency in the country.

North Dakota is continuing its tradition of welcoming refugees looking for a safe place to settle.

After months of death and destruction as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there is now a federal program in place to help refugees resettle in the United States for up to two years.

For the Ukrainian community in North Dakota, this is welcomed news.

“For all of Ukrainians in the state of North Dakota, who have been very hopeful about being able to bring their relatives and their friends to safety. This is a pathway that’s going to allow them to do that in a pretty efficient manner,” said Holly Triska-Dally, state refugee coordinator.

This new program called “Uniting for Ukraine” dramatically cuts down the amount of time it takes for a refugee to be allowed to enter the United States – from about 24 months down to as quickly as a few weeks.

The refugee must be sponsored by an individual or family who agrees to act as a financial support for the duration of the stay, which is up to two years.

Bill Patrie, an advocate for resettling refugees in rural North Dakota, says this sponsorship program is a big step in the right direction.

“This is, this has been done before in, American history where local people take responsibility. They basically individually sponsor a family. And then the federal government is working both ends of that. They are checking out and verifying that the sponsor is legit, that they have the financial resources to sponsor the family,” said Patrie.

While the number of Ukrainians that will be resettled in North Dakota is not yet known, Triska-Dally says there has been plenty of interest from North Dakotans looking to sponsor families.

“I’ve gotten inquiries from the Dickinson community, from the Bismarck community. Also from the Fargo community, from families who I know at least are beginning this process,” said Dally.

In order to sponsor a refugee, an individual must show they can act as a financial support. Then, they will go through a security and vetting process. Finally, they begin the process of being matched with a Ukrainian refugee who then goes through a security and vetting process of their own.

North Dakota has also played a big role in helping to resettle Afghan refugees. 50 refugees have been resettled within the state.

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