Want to Help Refugees? You Can Always Hire One. Legally.

by Shipman & Goodwin LLP
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Over the last few months, I’ve had a few opportunities to use my legal background to help shed some light on refugee resettlement.

Back in February, I helped Connecticut lawyers introduce and sponsor a resolution at the American Bar Association Midyear Meeting calling for Congress to provide legal protections and sufficient funding for refugee resettlement.

And yesterday, I (along with many others within my firm, including my colleagues Brenda Eckert and Ashley Marshall) helped produce a program at my law firm on the issue. At various times during the year, we sponsor an “In Community” program that sheds light on issues impacting Connecticut.  The program yesterday focused on “Refugees and Resettlement: The Process and Protection Under the Law”.  My thanks to my firm for their leadership on this issue.

Among the speakers were Chris George, Executive Director, Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services (IRIS) and Kimberly May-Bailey, MSM, Director of Migration, Refugee and Immigration Services, Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of Hartford.

The work that they are doing in Connecticut to help assist refugees who relocate to Connecticut is nothing short of amazing and my thanks also to them to sharing the story of their work for us.

One of the interesting aspects to come out of the discussion was that fact that refugees are expected to become self-sufficient pretty quickly upon arrival.  To make that transition happen, the U.S. Government actually allows refugees to start work legally in the United States immediately upon arrival.  As the government tells refugees:

As a refugee, you may work immediately upon arrival to the United States. When you are admitted to the United States you will receive a Form I-94 containing a refugee admission stamp.  Additionally, a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, will be filed for you in order for you to receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). While you are waiting for your EAD, you can present your Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record, to your employer as proof of your permission to work in the United States.

For employers looking to help refugees, this is welcome news. Sometimes, employers may worry whether foreign nationals have sufficient documentation to allow them to work in the United States. With refugees, it’s clear from the outset that the answer is yes.

If you are willing to help, please contact IRIS or Catholic Charities.  There is always a need to help refugees.  As Chris George reminded us at the presentation, the Statute of Liberty reminds that that we take the tired and the poor and today’s refugees are among the most vulnerable we have in society. Making sure that they can find work is one way to ensure that they can have a life to be proud of in the United States.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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