City and Partners Help Migrants Gain Workforce Authorization

The city is taking a unique approach to make sure some of the recently arriving migrants can more quickly and efficiently gain work authorization through the state.

“The state shelter system has been at capacity due to widespread housing instability as well as an influx of new arrivals, resulting in the expansion of the system, including the establishment of hotel shelters in Chelsea,” said Alex Train, the city’s Director of Housing and Community Development. 

One of those hotel shelters in the city doesn’t presently have a service provider employed by the state, so the city along with local nonprofit La Colaborativa has been supporting state efforts to provide a range of housing and supportive services to about 20 households, Train said.

“The city, La Colaborativa and PAIR immigration legal services agency piloted a work authorization program that sought to expedite work authorization for the households, and we were able to advance work authorizations in about six weeks compared to the 12 months plus it usually takes for new arrival to gain work authorization,” said Train.

The city and its partners were able to accomplish this through a combination of focusing on online filing as well as raising funds from a private donor, The Boston Foundation, to cover the cost of the filing fees.

“With work authorizations in hand, the households are participating in job search, job training, and workforce development efforts with La Colaborativa and we are aiming to secure employment for them this winter,” said Train.

The filing fees being covered by the private donor typically cost about $400 per adult, Train said.

“One of the reasons why the work authorization system is log jammed right now is because the majority of new arrivals seeking work authorization are doing it manually and seeking a waiver of the fee,” said Train. “We opted to do the online application as well as raise private funds to cover the fees to expedite the process.”

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