Refugee Employment Staff

Job Development

Documents & IDs

When a refugee or asylee does not have a foreign passport, U.S. Customs and Border Protection provides the individual a paper Form I-94. A Form I-94 with an unexpired refugee admission stamp and a handwritten number on it is acceptable as a receipt for a List A document for a refugee. Refugees are authorized to work because of their immigration status. Just as in the case of any employee, a refugee may choose to present any applicable document from the Lists of Acceptable Documents. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provides refugees electronic and paper forms of the I-94 for proof of legal status and employment authorization as well as Form I-766, Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

The new electronic Form I-94 for refugees does not include an admission stamp but provides the class of admission as “RE” and an admission until date as “D/S.” If a refugee presents a Form I-94 computer-generated printout for Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification, the employer must accept it as a receipt establishing both employment authorization and identity for 90 days. No later than the end of the 90-day receipt period, the refugee must present an EAD (Form I-766) or a combination of a List B document and an unrestricted Social Security card.

Labor Market Information

Higher will soon be publishing a guide to labor market information and its practical use for the field of refugee employment. Please sign-up for our blog to receive an announcment of its publication. The guide will be posted to Higher’s Online Learning Institute. 

LMI includes data and analysis related to employment and the workforce. It is used by business leaders, consumers, developers, economists, investors, job seekers, public policymakers, and educators. The goal of analyzing LMI is to support these customers in making informed plans, choices, and decisions for a variety of purposes, including business investment decision making, career planning and preparation, education and training offerings, job search opportunities, hiring, and public or private workforce investments.

CareerOneStop is a comprehensive source of employment and career resources, including resources and assessments to explore career opportunities, information about training opportunities, job search tips, a directory of American Job Centers, industry reports, and a directory of nearly 12 million employers. 

Occupational Information System (O*NET) is a leading source of occupational information. Central to the project is the O*NET database, containing information on hundreds of standardized and occupation-specific descriptors. You can use O*NET to explore occupations by career clusters or look for occupations that require knowledge of a specific tool or software. 

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)

What is WIOA?

WIOA State Plans

WIOA, The White House, Refugees and You PowerPoint Presentation

Recommended Resources

WIOA: What Human Service Agencies and Advocates Need to Know – CLASP Report

White House Task Force on New Americans: One-Year Progress Report

Job Development for Refugee Clients


Job Readiness

Workers’ Rights and Federal Hotlines

The United States Department of Labor (DOL) is the federal agency responsible for US workers. The DOL’s website has a summary of the major laws that protect workers in the US workforce.

The following are the three major agencies that protect workers’ rights. Each of these agencies have a hotline or mechanism to report abuses of worker’s rights. Complaints filed with any of these agencies are confidential and protect the identity of the complainant. These agencies are required to investigate employers for any complaint they receive. For any of these agencies if you are not sure if the employer is in violation of the law, then ask. Please be familiar with all three and share the hotline numbers or websites with clients.

  1. Office of Special Counsel for Immigration

The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices Civil Right Division (OSC) enforces the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This federal law prohibits citizenship status discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices during the employment eligibility verification, Form I-9 and E-Verify; and retaliation or intimidation. Worker hotline: 1-800-255-7688.

When taking clients for the hiring or onboarding process, it’s possible a hiring manager may be unfamiliar with your clients’ documents. When working with a new employer, refugee employment staff should accompany their clients to help guide both parties through the process. A client has the right to present any combination of documents listed on form I9. It is illegal for an employer to solicit documents from clients.

Want to practice your knowledge of I9? The following quiz is great for staff to take but also to use in class. Employee Rights Interactive Quiz from USCIS for Form I-9.

  1. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The EEOC is the federal agency to call if you clients experience discrimination or harassment in the workplace. A person will file a complaint with the EEOC when their workplace becomes hostile. “Hostile” means intimidating, offensive, abusive and/or otherwise offensive, going beyond rudeness or casual joking. To qualify as a “hostile” workplace, conduct must be intentional, severe, recurring and/or pervasive and interfere with the employee’s ability to perform his/her job.

A complain must be filed in person. When filing a complaint it is always helpful if clients bring to the meeting any information or papers that will help EEOC understand their case. For example, if a client was fired because for performance, he or she might bring in performance evaluations as well as the letter or notice stating that he or she was fired. The client might also bring the names of people who know about what happened and information about how to contact them. Although EEOC does not take charges over the phone, a client can start the process over the phone. Call 1-800-669-4000 to submit basic information about a possible charge. An EEOC investigation should be completed within 180 days after a complaint is filed. Here is an “Equal Employment Is the Law” poster for the classroom.

  1. Occupational Safety and Health Act

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was passed to prevent workers from being killed or seriously harmed at work. Employees and their representatives have the right file a complaint and request an OSHA inspection of their workplace if they believe there is a serious hazard or their employer is not following OSHA standards. Workers do not have to know whether a specific OSHA standard has been violated to file a complaint. They should file a complaint as soon as possible after noticing the hazard or lack of compliance because OSHA citations may be issued only for violations that exist now or existed in the past six months. OSHA hotline 1 (800) 321-6742 or call your local OSHA Regional or Area Office.

Assistance for Refugees Wanting to Return to a Previous Profession

In 2010, Higher (then RefugeeWorks) published a series of guides on returning to a profession that that a refugee once worked in. The guides are for foreign-trained professionals who are seeking to practice their profession in the United States. It describes the structure and future of the profession and workforce composition, as well as the skills, training, and credentials needed to advance in the field. These guides are an essential resource for refugees, other newcomers, and employment specialists. 

Opportunities for Refugee Engineers (PDF)
Opportunities for Refugee Teachers (PDF)
Opportunities for Refugee Physicians and Nurses (PDF)
Opportunities for Refugee Pharmacists (PDF)
Opportunities for Refugee Dentists (PDF)
Opportunities for Refugee Accountants (PDF)

Please also visit:

World Education Services an organization that evaluate and advocate for the recognition of international education qualifications.

Upwardly Global an organization whose mission is to eliminate employment barriers for skilled immigrants and refugees, and integrate this population into the professional U.S. workforce.


Photo credit: Immigrant Connect Chicago

Application Bingo           

Memory Game             

Planned and Unplanned Consequences Activity               

US Job Cycle Word Search Puzzle and Instructions                  

Warp Speed Introduction Activity                      

US Job Cycle Card Sort Game and Instructions


Blank Application Form       

Blank Paycheck and Pay Stub                

Sample Behavioral Interview Questions

Training Resources

Adult Learning Principles          

CAL Training for Non-Trainer: Tips and Tools


Higher’s Interview Behavior Videos       

The White House “First Jobs” Video Series       

Café Clarkston Videos


Youth Employment Resorces


Digital literacy resources

ORR’s Technical Assistance providers

Need technical assistance in other areas of your programs? Check out all of ORR’s Technical Assistance providers below. You can also see all their upcoming events on our calendar.

Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services (BRYCS) aims to strengthen the capacity of refugee-serving and mainstream organizations across the U.S. to empower and ensure the successful development of refugee children, youth, and their families. Check out BRYCS’ newest report Raising Teens in a New Country: A Guide for the Whole Family.
Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) promotes the dignity and protects the rights of immigrants in partnership with a dedicated network of Catholic and community legal immigration programs.
Welcoming America looks to provide refugee resettlement organizations with the tools and support needed to enhance and sustain their community engagement and public awareness work in local communities, deepen their practices and local collaborations, and develop broader support for refugees which is essential to refugees’ longer-term civic, linguistic, and economic integration. is the website of the National Capacity Building Project of The Center for Victims of Torture and is a resource center for people who are interested in healing after torture.through resources, training, and networking opportunities specifically targeted to specialized torture treatment centers.


The National Partnership for Community Training (NPCT)  builds capacity in refugee mental health for providers to effectively screen, refer, assist, and serve refugees’ emergent mental health issues and to continue growing formal and nontraditional mental health service provision.

The Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Assistance (META Project) provides one-on-one technical assistance, learning resources, and trainings to help refugee services providers improve their monitoring and evaluation (M&E) practices.