Work Smarter with Increased Afghan SIV Arrivals

Afghan SIV image

Image Credit: Radio Free Europe

Afghan SIV arrivals have increased significantly in recent months.  Many come in to resettlement offices as walk-ins, seeking services after arriving on their own with green cards and high expectations.

Read more for links to recent articles, useful information and strategies to provide more effective employment services to this population.  Many of the strategies could also apply to Iraqi SIVs.

One Factor in the Increased Arrivals

Afghan SIVs have been required to apply for R&P benefits before traveling to the US.  The timing of this process, visa expiration and other timing factors were making it impossible for many SIVs to obtain those benefits.

In June, the US Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) changed the process to allow Afghan SIVs to apply for R&P benefits through any resettlement agency in the US within 60 (and sometimes 90 days of their arrival).  Learn more about the SIV application process here. 

Strategies to consider 

Help SIVs identify other marketable skills they gained as interpreters.  When conducting an employability assessment, spend more time discussing the nature of their interpreting work. The information can improve client resumes, identify alternative career paths and begin to help adjust expectations.  Some helped organize community meetings or other large events.  Many developed strong computer and document preparation skills.  Most worked with a range of stakeholders with very different backgrounds and perspectives requiring strong communication and cross-cultural skills.

Provide resources for more independent job searches.  Many SIVs have the skills and interest to pursue a more independent job search.   Help them sign up for a free lifetime username and password for Higher’s On-line Learning Institute and encouraging them to take training on How to Complete a Job Application.  Provide additional information about the limitations and realities of on-line applications.  Read this previous blog post for tips for getting past automated initial screening technology.

Adjust Job Readiness and Job Development Strategies.  Provide a list of current job openings gathered from Craigslist, employer partners and other regular sources.  Tell clients when and where to get the list so they can follow-up on their own.  Provide wage information for a range of jobs to help adjust unrealistic salary expectations.  Consider written exercises to screen for differences between spoken and written language fluency, which can have an impact on the type of jobs these clients can get.

Strengthen Connections to U.S. Ties and Previous Arrivals.   Prepare a fact sheet for friends, anchors and other connections who are already providing support and advice so they can continue to do that with more accurate information.  The better they understand resettlement and employment, the more they can help.  Consider identifying SIVs and/or military contacts who could share their experiences with new arrivals.  Offer a networking event or special meeting to facilitate connections among Afghan SIVs, potential employers and military contacts.

 Recent Articles for More Information

Afghan SIV Perspective from CBS News

Limits and Possible Extension of SIV Slots from Independent Journal Review

(Higher presented two employment sessions at the recent National Migration Conference in DC.  Read more in a series of posts about what we learned over the next few weeks.)


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