Today the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) announced a new streamlined, online process for refugees filing for work permits. Jewish Federations have advocated for measures to expedite refugee resettlement efforts and issued the following statement in response to the announcement:
“Jewish Federations commend U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for implementing new processes to help Ukrainian refugees obtain work authorization permits more quickly,” said Darcy Hirsh, Managing Director of Public Affairs at Jewish Federations of North America. “This is an issue we have advocated for and a positive step the government is taking to ensure refugees can start working sooner after they arrive to their new communities. We understand that work permit backlogs affect many refugee populations, and we will continue working with the Administration as well as local agencies across the country to enhance support of refugee resettlement."
This delay in work authorizations has left Ukrainian refugees arriving in the U.S. economically vulnerable and increased the financial strain on private sponsors, social service agencies, and communities supporting them.
Earlier this week, Jewish Federations announced a $1 million Ukrainian Resettlement Grant Initiative to support refugees seeking safety in the U.S. The first grants totaling half-a-million dollars have already being allocated to six Jewish Federations, with matching funds provided by a group of philanthropists led by the Shapiro Foundation and the Combined Jewish Philanthropies.