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Refugee labor mobility: A unique hiring opportunity for the higher education community

interstride logo by Interstride
June 29, 2023

This blog post was co-authored by Aaron Blumberg, Partner at Fragomen, Betsy Fisher, U.S. Director, at TBB, and Hannah Somers, U.S. Program Manager at TBB.

Higher education employers are constantly on the lookout for talented professors, researchers, and administrators to join their teams. Sometimes, the options may seem slim, but there is a new hiring solution available to higher education employers in the U.S. Fragomen and Talent Beyond Boundaries (TBB) are partnering to help connect higher education employers with highly-skilled refugees looking to relocate to the U.S.

What Is TBB?

TBB pairs highly skilled refugees with U.S. higher-education employers. The organization helps employers find quality employees to fill shortages while also helping refugees who need opportunities to relocate.TBB is already successful in Canada, Australia, the U.K., and the European Union. 94% of employers who recruited with TBB said they would recruit with them again. 100% of employers surveyed by TBB said they would recommend this program to other employers.

TBB partners with many employers, not just higher education employers. However, this post will focus specifically on higher education employers for teaching and non-teaching positions who are interested in hiring refugees. There are several visa sponsorship options available for higher education employers that make them great candidates for hiring through TBB.

Where Do Candidates Come From?

TBB has its own database called the Talent Catalog with more than 65,000 refugees signed up so far. 11,400 candidates currently have professional levels of English or higher. The most represented countries are those with high numbers of refugees including Syria and Palestine.

Below are some fields with high numbers of professionals currently signed up:

Field:Number of professionals signed up in TBB database:
IT Professionals4,916
Medical Professionals7,460
Professional services15,897

How It Works

The process of hiring an international employee with TBB is streamlined to make it as easy as possible for the employer. Let’s break it down into five clear steps:

  1. Defining the job role – The employer provides a job description for the role(s) they want to fill.
  2. Recruitment – TBB provides a shortlist of suitable candidates and facilitates the remote recruitment process. The employer interviews candidates and issues job offer(s) and employment contract(s).
  3. Visa application – Fragomen supports the visa application for the employer and the employee. TBB monitors the process to ensure smooth visa processing.
  4. Integration – TBB helps the employer prepare for the employee’s arrival in the U.S. TBB also connects employees with services as needed to ensure their transition to the U.S. is smooth.
  5. Post-arrival – TBB provides continued support to the employer with 12 months of regular check-ins with our direct manager. TBB can also arrange culture awareness training for staff if needed.

Employer Responsibilities

TBB is available to work with the employer to create a plan for how to meet the following employer responsibilities:

  • Visa-related costs
  • Required documentation for the immigration process
  • Arrival support for the employee
  • Support with transitional housing if needed
  • Informal orientation for the employee
  • Communicate regularly with TBB
  • Willingness to understand the refugee’s situation

Top Visa Options for Hiring Refugees

Once a candidate is chosen, TBB will work with the employer and any legal counsel to find the best immigration pathway. The best option is different for each circumstance – based on the job description and the candidate. Options include:

The H-1B Visa is the best option for most colleges and universities employers. They can sponsor international employees more easily and quickly than many other employers because they are exempt from the H-1B visa cap lottery. There is no limit to the number of international employees these employers can hire in a year.

A Snapshot of the H-1B Visa

Employer eligibilityEmployer must complete a Labor Condition Application.
Pay requirementsSalary must meet or exceed the Prevailing Wage for the position.
Job role requirementsJob must require a bachelor’s degree or higher in a related field.
Visa processing timeAbout 1 year
Candidate eligibilityBachelor’s degree or higher
Visa costsAbout $3,500 if you pay for premium processing for faster processing times
Long-term durabilityLasts up to 6 years. Dual intent is allowed, so visa holders can apply for permanent residence.

Access a Hiring Pool of Highly-Qualified Professionals

Higher education employers can now hire refugees who are seeking to relocate to the U.S. with the help of Talent Beyond Boundaries (TBB) and Fragomen. Fragomen is the largest and oldest immigration firm in the U.S. They can help you smoothly navigate the process of hiring a refugee from another country. Not only will you be able to find excellent new talent for your institution, but you will be helping someone who needs a fresh start and bringing more diversity to your campus.

The contents of this post are intended for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.