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Benefits of remote work and freelancing for refugees

Ceylin Güven
January 19, 2023

TThe current refugee crisis around the world, especially with the recent situations in Ukraine and Syria, has left millions of people homeless, jobless, and without any financial stability. While traditional in-person work settings might be difficult for refugees, freelance refugee employment is able to solve a lot of problems.

Hardships of sustaining an income as a refugee

The life of a refugee is one of continuous and rapid changes, which makes it harder to break into the working world after relocating.Being uprooted from their homes, having to leave behind their culture and their loved ones, suddenly finding themselves unemployed–no matter how senior their positions might’ve been at their job–are massive problems refugees are burdened with. And when it comes to finding new employment, another challenge added to the mix: language barriers. Finding themselves in a foreign country with unfamiliar customs and not being able to communicate properly makes it hard as it is for refugees to find jobs; unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. Without a residence permit (which is infamously hard to acquire), it’s impossible to provide evidence for locality and open a bank account, which prevents refugees from being on a company’s official payroll, along with the other basic payment challenges. The lack of documentation also reduces chances for them to get hired by major companies.In turn, this inability to get a job can cause a great deal of financial anxiety, and add hardships to their already challenging life. Freelancing as a refugee can become a great alternative to this problem, which we’ll explain below.

Advantages of freelancing and remote work for refugees

If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that remote work can be beneficial for everyone–and this includes any and all asylum seekers. Here are some of the biggest benefits of freelancing and remote work for refugees:

Location-independence  

Refugees are also commonly referred to as “displaced people”, which explains how having to work from one place full-time can be hard for them. However, this forced location can be turned into something advantageous through digital nomadism and location-independence while working.  Both remote work and freelancing can be done anywhere in the world with an internet connection: Whether this is one’s own home, an office, cafe, or in this case, even a refugee camp. This flexibility can help in many ways, such as:

  • A wider employment opportunity from anywhere in the world
  • Skills-based hiring practices can be useful for those who had to leave their education due to their governmental issues  
  • A decrease in identity-based workplace judgment and harassment
  • Working on a project-basis will leave more time to work on daily challenges
  • Focusing on personal autonomy and independence
  • Mental health improvements through financial stability

Self employment and autonomy

Solo work is able to provide more autonomy and independence, which definitely clears a lot of problems with refugee employment. Having the freedom to decide when and how to work is a huge plus when everything about their future relocation is uncertain due to legal issues. While working actively as a freelancer might require some documentation, it doesn’t require a citizenship or residence visa. This can alleviate some of the problems refugees face when they’re looking for employment. This freedom presents a huge potential for refugees to continue their freelance work wherever they’re currently located.

Digital nomad visas

The number of countries that offer digital nomad visas is growing day by day. Some notable examples include Hungary, Cyprus, Portugal, among others. Digital nomad visas are given to those who are able to prove that they win a certain amount of income through solopreneur work, freelancing, or remote work. In return, the host country grants them residency for a certain amount of time (generally around 1 year), and allows them to experience a new place and culture during their work endeavors.  These countries can provide life changing opportunities for refugees who are seeking employment, as they can offer long-term stays in a country and provide them with an improved life quality. And the benefits go beyond just employment; they also provide access to social systems like education and healthcare. These lend safety and stability that many refugees might need in order to survive. If you want to know more about becoming a digital nomad, and how it can benefit you, a comprehensive beginner’s guide is available on our blog.

Initiatives to include refugees in the workforce

To help solve this current issue, there are certain organizations and initiatives that encourage refugee employment through certain measures. These organizations focus on providing free educational materials and connecting refugees with job placement resources–specifically those that involve remote positions, contract-based work, or internships–allowing them to access meaningful employment despite their lack of permanent residence visas.By supporting such initiatives, businesses open up more opportunities for refugees to become employed and develop their skills. In turn, they are able to diversify their business and find new talents they were not able to reach otherwise.Here are some resources on how some organizations are working towards welcoming refugees to the workforce:

  • EmployUkraine.org: This is a non-profit platform that matches displaced Ukrainian people with job opportunities around the world. They are currently working with over 1,600 employers to maximize refugee employment through online measures.
  • Freelancer.international: Their “Jobs for Refugees” Initiative by Freelancer.international is a completely free service to help refugee employment in Germany. They provide both the refugees and the companies support during the hiring process.  
  • Global Compact Refugees: GCR creates what they call “Good Practices” that aim to find solutions to refugee issues, including unemployment. Their current initiatives include building a cooperative for refugee women in Turkey, providing cultural integration support in Bulgaria, and more.  
  • RefuAid: An UK-based organization that helps with the integration of refugees into a life of stability through employment, education, and language support. They provide an interest-free loan for refugees, which can help them requalify in their previous careers in the UK.

Fruits of globalization

Thanks to the increase of remote work opportunities, refugee employment can be increased and these people can be helped reintegrate into the workforce tremendously. Solving the refugee employment crisis is now up to governmental initiatives and collaboration of the private sector with non-profit organizations, in order to provide the necessary skills to refugees. Then, it falls on companies to allow for more flexible work models to accommodate them. Using a comprehensive worktech partner like Ruul, relocated talents can make any location their workplace, and kickstart their solo career with ease  and organizations can integrate refugees in their workforce either as employees or contractors seamlessly. Sign up now and discover Ruul’s solutions built to enable working with location-independence..

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