A Roadmap for Employers Hiring Afghan Newcomers

As Afghans arrive in the U.S., economic integration will be key to their success in their new communities. As employment staff around the country assist Afghan newcomers with finding their first U.S. jobs, preparing job candidates for interviews is only one part of the process. Employment staff will need to consider that many companies are new to hiring this population and will also need guidance on how to prepare their HR teams to welcome this new workforce. With the aim of preparing employers in the U.S. for the task at hand, the Tent Partnership for Refugees (Tent), in collaboration with LIRS, has published a U.S. Employer’s Guide to Hiring Afghan Refugees. Click here to download the guide.

The guide contains essential information specifically geared towards human resources teams related to the recruitment and employment of Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders, refugees, and parolees. It includes: 

  • A factsheet on Afghan SIV holders, refugees, and parolees; where they are likely to resettle, and an overview of their educational and professional backgrounds. 
  • The business benefits of hiring Afghan SIV holders, refugees, and parolees. 
  • Guidance for businesses on what types of employment documentation these populations are likely to possess to present for the I-9 
  • A list of local resettlement organizations for businesses to connect with if interested in hiring Afghans newcomers

This blog post will discuss how employment staff can incorporate the 42-page guide into their pitch to potential employers.

Tips on Hiring Afghan Newcomers

Navigating Documentation
This part of the guide explains the various immigration statuses that Afghan newcomers are arriving in the U.S. with and shares details on the various work authorization documents they can show to employers that meet I-9 requirements. There is a specific section that employment staff can share with potential employers during job placement conversations to reassure employers that Afghans newcomers have the right to work. It includes guidance on how to navigate the hiring and verification process with ease.

Language Barriers
Employers sometimes express concern around language barriers when considering hiring newcomers.  The guide includes detailed statistics on the educational backgrounds of Afghans, based on the Afghan immigrant population in the U.S. In a pitch to employers, it would be beneficial for employment staff to mention that one group of Afghans who arrived in the U.S. in recent years, Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders, report relatively high levels of education (90% reported having completed secondary education or higher) and strong spoken English (89% reported their spoken English is at least “good”). Approximately 41% report having a bachelor’s degree or higher. This is helpful for an employer to know as it demonstrates that some members of the Afghan community who are arriving in the U.S. will have English language proficiency and strong educational backgrounds. This can also help employers conceptualize what types of jobs they may have available that fit both the needs and the skills of the Afghan newcomers.

Benefits of Hiring Eligible Afghans
Employment staff can also elaborate on how hiring Afghans will be beneficial to the company itself.  In the guide, a section titled “Why Hire Refugees?” encourages companies to hire newcomers by detailing the benefits of welcoming this new workforce, filling labor shortages, increasing employee diversity (and therefore fostering innovation), and combating high turnover rates.

Local Contacts and Resources
The guide includes a list of resettlement agencies and NGO affiliates around the country that can be contacted for employers looking to hire in other states. This can also be useful when an employer has an interest in hiring newcomers in a location the employment staff is not familiar with; the guide can provide a reference point for referrals which can keep an employer engaged for future hiring potential.

Prior to meeting with potential employers, consider sharing the U.S. Employer’s Guide to Hiring Afghan Refugees. It will answer many questions that an employer may have about recruiting Afghans, can kickstart an introductory conversation on hiring Afghans, and create a better understanding on the benefits of working with local service providers. 

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