01 Ukraine relief scams
How to donate safely and securely for Ukraine relief
02:28 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

A recently reported scam is targeting sponsors who are trying to help Ukrainians come to the United States, according to US immigration officials.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services says the agency recently received reports of an email phishing scam targeting would-be participants in Uniting for Ukraine, the Biden administration program that gives people in the United States the opportunity to sponsor Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion.

The reports described “a basic email phishing scam that requested payment from prospective Uniting for Ukraine supporters before USCIS would review an application,” the agency said.

In reality, the program does not charge a fee for the filing of a declaration of financial support, one of the documents would-be sponsors are required to submit.

“USCIS has cautioned applicants and beneficiaries against possible scams related to this key humanitarian parole program,” the agency said.

Ukrainians seeking  asylum in the United States are seen on a bus  in Tijuana, Mexico, in April. Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine began, some 100,000 Ukrainians have come to the United States through various immigration channels. Officials say a recently reported phishing scam targeted prospective US-based sponsors trying to help Ukrainians.

The agency has shared several social media posts recently that warn of reported scams tied to the program and link to a USCIS website offering tips for avoiding and reporting scams.

“Beware of fake denial letters with typos and other signs of not being official USCIS correspondence,” the agency said in a June tweet.

The agency said the tweets were part of routine efforts to better protect applicants to its programs by highlighting scams, fraud and misconduct on the USCIS website and social media platforms.

Uniting for Ukraine began accepting applications in late April. It’s billed as a fast, streamlined program and “a key step toward fulfilling President Biden’s commitment to welcome Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s invasion.”

The program requires Ukrainians seeking entry to the United States to be sponsored by people based in the US. Ukrainian applicants are considered for humanitarian parole on a case-by-case basis for up to two years. If accepted, they are eligible for work authorization.

As of last week, USCIS says it has received more than 92,000 requests from people agreeing to support Ukrainian citizens or their immediate family members as part of Uniting for Ukraine.

Through the program, more than 62,000 Ukrainians have been authorized to book their own travel to the US, USCIS says. And 29,000 people have successfully arrived in the US as part of the program, according to the agency.

About 71,000 additional Ukrainians have been processed into the US since March 24 through other immigration channels, USCIS says.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in late February, millions of refugees have fled the country.

Scams have also been reported in connection with other Ukraine relief efforts, including via accounts on cryptocurrency exchange platforms.