Since the beginning of this year, Jewish Federations have been in regular communication with officials from USCIS, HHS, and the Department of State about the challenges parolees and their agencies have been facing due to work permit backlogs. In a series of changes announced over the last 72 hours, USCIS has made work permits incident to status for certain parolees and expanded fee waivers to allow more people to seek work authorization without paying hundreds of dollars in fees per applicant.
“Jewish Federations of North America commend USCIS and the Department of Homeland Security for issuing new guidelines making it easier for Ukrainian and Afghan humanitarian parolees to obtain Employment Authorization Documents (EADs), otherwise known as work permits,” said Elana Broitman, SVP of Public Affairs at Jewish Federations of North America. “For months, our agencies have shared that work permits have been the biggest obstacle facing Ukrainian and Afghan newcomers, who want to work, but whose applications have been backlogged up to 9 months or even longer. These new changes will ease the transition for newcomers and the agencies and volunteers serving them, promote a pathway to self-sufficiency, and remove red tape standing between Ukrainians and Afghans and the sense of normalcy they have been pursuing since seeking refuge in the U.S.”
Earlier this year, Jewish Federations launched two resettlement initiatives in partnership with the Shapiro Foundation and local Jewish human service agencies to help resettle displaced Afghans and Ukrainians. To date, the initiatives have helped resettle over 2,000 parolees in 16 states across some two dozen communities in the U.S. and Canada.