A new program for Ukrainian refugees is launching today in the United States. "Uniting for Ukraine" stipulates that 100,000 Ukrainians will receive visas to stay in the country for up to two years, but also means that ad-hoc admissions of Ukrainians on the United States' land borders have stopped.
Ukrainians eligible for the program must have lived in the country when the Russian invasion happened, must have a sponsor in the U.S. and must undergo extensive vetting, including showing vaccines.
Depending on how fast Ukrainians are admitted under the new scheme, it could be a major step up for refugee inflow into the U.S. in the fiscal year of 2022. Despite President Joe Biden having extended the cap of U.S. refugee admissions to 125,000 in FY2021, only around 11,400 asylees were admitted amid the coronavirus pandemic between October 2020 and September 2021 - a record low. The Trump administration had set the cap at 15,000 in 2020 after having dialed back the annual number of refugees that could be admitted to the U.S. for a couple of years in a row. In FY2020, approximately 11,800 refugees were admitted to the country, according to numbers by the U.S. Department of State. Even in 2002 and 2003, shortly after the passing of the Patriot Act, the U.S. still received 27,000 and 28,000 refugees, respectively.
As of end-March 2022, six months into the fiscal year, around 8,800 refugees had been admitted to the United States.
Refugees from Asia have historically been the largest group of people being granted asylum in the U.S. Almost 45 percent of grantees since 1975 came from that continent (excluding South Asia), with the biggest influxes from Vietnam around 1980, Hmong and Laotians up to around 1992 and from Myanmar and Bhutan around 2008.