Can you hire refugees and asylees at your company?

Can you hire refugees and asylees at your company?

| Sep 2, 2020 | Firm News |

As a business owner, you may have concerns about the immigration status of some of your workers. While you might want to offer job opportunities to as many individuals as possible, the presence of undocumented workers could cause you legal issues and the interruption of your business. 

The United States Department of Justice notes that you cannot deny anyone the right to employment based on state of origin or nationality and that this right extends to refugees and asylees. As such, there are several immigration-based employment laws you may want to remain aware of as you hire these individuals. 

Permanent permission to work

Unlike those who possess a United States visa, refugees and asylees do not have to renew any type of documents that allow them permission to work in the country. Their status allows them to work on a permanent basis and this does not expire. These individuals usually flee their country to avoid different types of persecution, including: 

  • Political beliefs  
  • Religious beliefs  
  • Race or nationality  

As long as any potential employee is protected under refugee or asylee status, they are protected by the same rights as naturalized workers, with rare exceptions. 


Depending on the forms refugees complete before seeking work, they are not required to prove citizenship. The most common form is known as I-9, and this allows any individual seeking U.S. asylum to present one qualified identification card such as a Social Security card, an employment authorization document or papers from the Department of Homeland Security. You may want to remember that EADs usually qualify for instant extension periods for those with refugee or asylee status. 

Employers may need to reverify certain documents for employees seeking asylum in the United States. However, because these rules vary, you may want to review the laws carefully to avoid any discriminatory acts.