- Amazon will launch in April additional resources and support for the company's refugee and humanitarian-based immigrant employees, according to a March 24 announcement.
- The new program, Welcome Door, will offer financial assistance such as reimbursement for employment authorization renewal fees, free legal resources for navigating immigration-related questions and free college tuition and English as a second language proficiency training. Amazon is also launching an electronic portal to support employees' U.S. citizenship applications and will provide customized mentorships to assist participants.
- Ukrainian refugees hired by Amazon will have access to Welcome Door, Amazon said, and the company announced plans to further expand Welcome Door globally by the end of the year. Employees are eligible for the program's benefits beginning the first day of their employment with the exception of English as a second language training, which requires 90 days of employment, Ofori Agboka, Amazon's vice president of people experience and tech for operations, said in an email.
As another refugee crisis unfolds, some corporations have made refugee support a primary focus of their external communications. As of March 29, 2022, the United Nations Refugee Agency has estimated that more than 4 million refugees fled Ukraine since the Russian Federation's invasion began on Feb. 24, 2022.
That support has taken a variety of forms, with one multi-employer group, the Tent Partnership for Refugees, donating millions to humanitarian organizations. One member of the partnership, Adecco, launched a job site targeted at helping Ukrainian refugees find work. Staffing firm ManpowerGroup undertook a similar initiative, creating country-specific job sites for Ukrainian refugees.
Others have offered financial support to organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross as well as the military forces of Ukraine.
Federal agencies have stepped in to assist, too. On March 3, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that Ukraine would be designated for Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, for a 18-month period. Individuals eligible for TPS can, among other things, obtain employment authorization.
There is precedent for offering classes in English as a second language to support employees who are immigrants. Sources who previously spoke to HR Dive identified ESL as a way for such workers to boost their confidence and open them up to even more training for different skill needs. Amazon first announced its support for ESL classes in early March.
If employers have workers who are directly caught up in the Ukrainian conflict, they might look to support these employees in other ways, such as relocation assistance, mental health resources and time off. Some observers have recommended advancing paychecks to ensure pay is not disrupted by potential cyber attacks.