Amazon launches employee support program for refugees; opens massive aid hub

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Amazon is supporting refugees with a new program.

A new Amazon program offers resources and support for refugee and humanitarian-based immigrant employees. The company has also opened its largest “humanitarian aid hub” to date.

Amazon has launched a new initiative, called Welcome Door, for refugee and humanitarian-based immigrant employees that includes a citizenship assistance portal, free legal support, and mentorship along with reimbursement for Employment Authorization Document (EAD) fees. The program also offers employees access to upskilling opportunities, including free college tuition and English as a Second Language (ESL) proficiency through Amazon’s Career Choice program.

Amazon announced the program just days after it said it had converted nearly 54,000 sq. ft. of warehouse space in Slovakia, previously used for customer fulfillment, into a humanitarian aid hubto help Ukrainian refugees. It will connect to a network of fulfillment centers across Europe space to move donated goods. The strategic location of the Slovakia facility will expedite the movement of relief supplies throughout Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Moldova, and Czech Republic to quickly help Ukrainian children and families in need, according to the company. The online giant is also among the U.S. companies that have paused operations in Russia.

Through the new Welcome Door program, Amazon’s refugee and humanitarian-based immigrant employees will have access to several new resources, including:

  • Reimbursement for EAD renewal fees, which cost on average roughly $500 every other year.
  • A new Citizenship Assistance Portal that will fully support U.S. citizenship applications for all eligible employees.
  • Ongoing communications that will highlight policy changes that may impact an employee’s immigration status.
  • Free legal resources to help navigate immigration-related questions and the ability to connect with immigration experts.
  • Access to skills training benefits including free college tuition and ESL proficiency through Amazon’s Career Choice program.
  • Customized mentorship.

These new resources will be offered to Amazon employees in the U.S. starting in April 2022, and the company plans to expand the program globally by the end of the year.

“We have a variety of jobs and welcome all kinds of people, and we’re proud to offer enhanced support for refugees around the world,” said Ofori Agboka, Amazon VP of people eXperience and tech for operations. “Being displaced from your homeland and having to start again somewhere new is challenging and emotional. It is an honor and a privilege to help make that transition easier and help people start again. Across our entire business and at all levels, we’re working with refugees to secure jobs and get the support they need.”

Amazon aids veterans, displaced workers
This effort to help support refugees and humanitarian-based immigrant employees follows other initiatives the e-tail giant has launched targeting specific groups of workers who may need some extra assistance. In July 2021, Amazon announced plans to hire more than 100,000 U.S. veterans and military spouses by 2024.

Amazon currently employs over 40,000 veterans and military spouses across multiple businesses, and is building upon its 2016 Joining Forces pledge to hire 25,000 veterans and military spouses by 2021. The company expects that through this new pledge, it will hire over 16,000 military spouses.

Amazon offers a variety of programs to assist transitioning service members and military spouses in finding careers. This includes access to company-funded skills training in high-demand areas, as well as through initiatives like the Amazon Technical Apprenticeship Program and AWS re/Start. Veterans and military spouses working at Amazon have access to fellowships, mentorships, military spouse support, and deployment benefits. 

Amazon also offers Returnship, an initiative to help professionals get back to work after they lost or left their jobs—including those displaced by the impacts of COVID-19.