Amazon is looking to help refugees and others forcibly displaced build a new life in the U.S. by providing access to employment and support with the immigration process.
The company said it committed to hiring at least 5,000 refugees in the U.S. by the end of 2024, as part of its ongoing efforts to support people displaced by conflict. The employees will receive tailored support and resources through Amazon’s “Welcome Door” program. Launched earlier this year, the program provides immigration support for refugee and humanitarian-based immigrant employees.
Amazon announced the hiring commitment at the U.S. Business Summit on Refugees, which brought together a coalition of more than 100 companies that are dedicated to helping displaced people start a new life in the U.S. The summit was organized by The Tent Partnership for Refugees, a network of over 260 major businesses, including Amazon, committed to supporting refugees.
“Being displaced from your homeland and having to start again somewhere is never easy, which is why we are committed to helping where we can, by providing refugees and other displaced people with access to meaningful employment, as well as immigration support, through our Welcome Door program,” Janet Saura, Amazon’s VP of employee relations, said in remarks at the summit. “It’s our privilege to help people make a new start.”
In a release, Amazon noted that the world currently has 36 million refugees. The number has doubled over the past 10 years and will continue to increase due to climate change and natural disasters, the company said.
Amazon’s Welcome Door program gives employees access to several benefits and tools, including reimbursement for certain government filing fees; a “Citizenship Assistance Portal” where eligible employees receive full end-to-end support for U.S. citizenship applications; and free legal resources to help navigate immigration-related questions, with the option to connect with immigration experts.
The benefits and tools became available to refugees and humanitarian-based immigrant employees in the U.S. in April. In addition, the employees have access to skills training benefits, including prepaid college tuition and English as a second language (ESL) proficiency through the Amazon Career Choice program, which is available to hourly employees after 90 days of employment with Amazon.
In addition to Welcome Door, Amazon’s recent efforts to support refugees and other displaced people include the following.
Support for Afghans: In the wake of the 2021 Afghanistan crisis, Amazon donated and shipped more than 925,000 essential items directly to nonprofit organizations supporting incoming refugees. Amazon’s Global Military Affairs team has been leading the company’s efforts to offer employment opportunities to recently arrived Afghans, and they have done extensive recruiting on the U.S. military bases hosting the population.
Support for Ukrainians: Amazon has provided more than $35 million in support for Ukrainians since the onset of the crisis in late February, including giving financial aid to organizations providing critical support on the ground, launching humanitarian aid hubs in Slovakia and Poland, and donating medical supplies, hygiene kits, and school supplies.
In July, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy awarded Amazon Web Services (AWS ) the Ukraine Peace Prize for its partnership with government officials to help keep vital government services operating, support Ukrainian customers and partners to keep their applications secure, and assist the country in preserving digital history.
Partnership with Welcome.US: Amazon has provided resettlement support for displaced people in partnership with Welcome.US, local resettlement agencies, and community organizations. To date, this partnership has primarily served Ukrainian and Afghan refugees.
Strong relationships with refugee resettlement agencies: Amazon partners with refugee resettlement agencies, including the International Rescue Committee (IRC), World Relief, HIAS, and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), to match candidates with jobs. These agencies work closely with refugees to understand their backgrounds, their current situation, and their needs. They then work with Amazon to connect the refugees with jobs that are commensurate with their skills and experience.
Amazon recently created a resource for refugees and resettlement agencies, called the “U.S. Guide to Hiring Refugees at Amazon.” The guide explains Amazon’s hiring and onboarding processes, career advancement opportunities, Welcome Door service offerings, and other benefits available to employees.