Featured, Local News

Displaced Ukrainians arrive in Vermont, Rutland

By Katy Savage

Ukrainians fleeing war started arriving in Vermont last month.

Two Ukrainian families are currently in Rutland county and about 20 people have arrived in the state so far through the Uniting for Ukraine program, according to Amila Merdzanovic, the director at U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants Vermont. A total of about 75 people are expected to arrive in the state, though it’s unclear when, Merdzanovic said.

President Joe Biden announced the new Uniting for Ukraine program in April for displaced Ukrainians impacted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to come to the United States safely. Once they arrive, they can live in the United States for two years and eventually apply for employment authorization.

“It’s a unique program,” said Tracy Dolan, the director of Vermont’s refugee office. “Right now the intent of the program is that it’s temporary in hopes they’re able to return to their country.”

A total of 100,000 Ukrainian refugees are coming to the United States, with most of them going to cities that have large Ukrainian populations, including New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago , Detroit and Los Angeles.

“We don’t have a significant Ukrainian community here; we’re a smaller state,” Dolan said.

U.S. sponsors who have a connection with a Ukrainian family sign an affidavit saying they can support the family financially and provide housing. The sponsors help with food, applying to Medicaid, social security, car applications and employment. Ukrainians are also eligible for assistance through refugee programs, including cash assistance and taking English classes.

Dolan said unlike other refugee programs, which are tracked by the federal government, her office finds out when Ukrainians arrive through the sponsors.

“We’re kind of doing it through word of mouth,” Dolan said.

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