Ukrainian staffers of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, who voiced frustration over the lack of support they have received from the State Department, were told that their safety concerns and pleas for immigration assistance are being addressed.
Kristina Kvien, the top American diplomat assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, sent an email Saturday to Ukrainian colleagues acknowledging “the extraordinary pressures and challenges” they face after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and committed to respond to their requests for help.
Nearly 400 American foreign-service officers and other State Department personnel signed an emailed letter to State Department leadership on Thursday expressing frustration over what they described as the department’s “lack of responsiveness” to requests for help from their Ukrainian colleagues.
They called on the State Department to help ensure the safe departure of their Ukrainian colleagues and any further assistance the department is able to provide.
Ms. Kvien, the charge d’affaires at the embassy, told Ukrainian staff in her response Saturday that Special Immigrant Visas—like those made available to Afghan staffers at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul—are “a longstanding option” and the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv had been holding education sessions about processing those applications since October.
“Very few of you have applied, although nearly half of you meet the minimum qualifications,” she wrote. The State Department, she added, “is working on a process that would enable the acceptance of SIV applications even though the consular section is temporarily closed.”
Ms. Kvien also said that the department was offering paid administrative leave and a salary advance to Ukrainian staff left behind after the embassy closed this month and its American staff were ordered to leave. She added that locally employed staff would receive a one-time payment of $2,000 per employee.
Nonessential American embassy personnel and diplomats’ families were ordered to leave Ukraine last month. This month, the embassy itself was closed and all U.S. diplomats were ordered to leave Kyiv.