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Happy Solstice from the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs!

Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs Logo

Wishing you warmth, health, and joy on this, the shortest day of the year!

We hope this email finds you in good spirits despite the Pacific Northwest long nights and snowier than usual season. The good news is that the days will now be getting longer. Is it too early to be looking forward to spring? Check out more good news from OIRA below…

A woman wearing a hijab is sitting on a couch filling out paperwork.

Humanitarian Parolees from Ukraine and Afghanistan Can Now Start Working Immediately!

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that they will allow Ukrainians and Afghans with humanitarian parole status to work immediately. This means many people will no longer have to wait six months or longer for their work permits to be processed. Advocates are still waiting for federal agencies like the Social Security Administration to announce whether they will be giving out unrestricted social security cards. Until then, you can learn more from these USCIS pages: Uniting for Ukraine and Information for Afghan Nationals.

Members of the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs standing with Mayor Harrell.

#ICYMI Not Only Do We Have a Budget…

But we also have positive news about our budget! On November 29, Seattle City Council officially adopted the 2023 City of Seattle budget, which included a small add to OIRA’s New Citizen Program to maintain prior year levels for our community provider partners as the contracted amount now includes one additional organization partner following the completion of the recent Request for Proposals.

Quick OIRA Updates

A melanated, smiling small child with dark, curly hair is sitting next to his father and talking with a citizenship clinic volunteer.

In October, advocates sent a letter to Mayor Harrell and other governments requesting greater collaboration and resources to help migrants, such as asylum-seekers recently arriving to Seattle. Director Hamdi sent this response on behalf of the City.

A patient receives a diagnostic medical procedure from a provider.

The next Seattle/King County Clinic
will take place April 27-20, 2023, and will offer dental, vision, and medical care! OIRA will be supporting the outreach and engagement for this important event. Learn more about the clinic here.

Deep Dive OIRA Updates

Humanitarian Parole Program Available for Venezuelans

Image of the Venezuelan flag.

In October, the United States announced a new process that allows Venezuelan nationals and their immediate family members to come to the U.S. This program would allow 24,000 Venezuelans to apply for entry (or “parole”) to the U.S. from Venezuela. Eligible individuals must already have or be able to afford to buy a passport and fly at their own expense, rather than enter at the U.S.-Mexico border. They also must have a supporter or sponsor in the U.S. who agrees to provide housing and other basic needs for up to two years. Learn more at this USCIS page.
Esta página de USCIS está en español.

Ethnic Media Directory Updated

A Univision reporter interviewing a Latina immigrant.

OIRA maintains this list of ethnic media outlets serving Seattle residents. Any person, candidate, government department, nonprofit, etc. can use the Ethnic Media Directory for their in-language and culturally relevant outreach and engagement strategies to immigrant and refugee communities, as well as BIPOC residents. If you know of a media organization serving immigrant/refugee communities that should be added to the directory, please contact You can learn more about our Ethnic Media Program here.

The Latest on Immigration Policy

Our office continues to monitor developments regarding federal immigration policies.

Migrant Buses to Seattle

OIRA continues to actively monitor this developing situation. As of this email, OIRA has not received any credible information about buses or planes of migrants arriving to Seattle funded by the governors of Florida or Texas. The city of Philadelphia has received 12 buses carrying immigrants from Texas since November 16, and the city of Denver has received 984 immigrants since December 9. The cities of Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C. have all received hundreds of buses since August 2022. You can read this recent letter (also linked above) from OIRA to community members detailing what we have been doing to prepare to welcome migrants.

Congressional Legislation for Dreamers

A number of news outlets have been reporting on a bipartisan deal to help “Dreamers” or young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, who have lived and gone to school here, and who in many cases identify as American. Any bipartisan bill will likely contain provisions strengthening border security and/or creating new processing centers specifically for migrants seeking asylum. We will continue engaging with national advocates to learn more about this evolving situation.