Political Asylum Grantees Earning a Living

I’ve never seen this discussed.

Suppose I’m Julian Assange or Edward Snowden or anyone else requesting asylum. Is the understanding that once whatever country it is that grants my request does so then I’m completely on my own in terms of making a living? Or is the understanding that whatever country grants the request will also take (at last some) responsibility for supporting me in that country?

Or maybe these guys are relying on them being high profile enough so that they can then mooch funds off of political supporters.

I believe refugees can qualify for welfare, Medicaid, and other government programs intended to assist the poor. A quick Google turned up this page from the California Department of Social Services which describes some special state programs that help refugees.

I’ve lived in areas with significant refugee populations and it seems like a lot of them wind up doing agricultural and janitorial work. I’m sure a lot depends on their English language ability and what professional skills they had coming in to the US, though.

I assume he is referring to Snowden and Assange because they can’t work, being stuck in embassies and airports and whatnot.

Somehow, I imagine that there aren’t going to be many IT companies in Russia champing at the bit to hire Snowden.

Actually by odd coincidence I just saw now where Snowden was offered a job as a programmer by a Russian social network company.

But I wouldn’t think that’s something to rely on. My thinking is that it’s hard enough for a lot of people to make a living as it is. These asylum seekers frequently end up in countries to which they have no real connection or ability to speak the language, even, which would make it a lot harder. (I would guess this offer to Snowden is heavily driven by marketing considerations.) But somehow that doesn’t seem to be a consideration.

I’m imagining to myself, I’m Snowden, I just showed up in the Moscow airport looking for asylum, it’s about dinnertime, now what?

Snowden has left the airport.

Very similar to Elvis, in that sense.

I’ve been wondering that this whole time.

Presumably he had a decent enough savings to support staying in Hong Kong hotels and eating airport food for months. I just wonder how accessible his money is/was. Carrying a load of cash wouldn’t have been prudent, and I’d be surprised if the US hasn’t frozen his bank accounts back home.

Has Wikileaks been funding his airport stay? Will he have to pay that back?

One of the problems of some asylum-holders in the US and of their children (based on Miami newspaper articles read years ago, no cite; they specified that while it was the case for many Cubans there were others) was that their asylum was expected to be short-time and while the parents qualified for aid, neither they nor their children were allowed to have legal jobs. So there came to be this population of people born in the US, who’d grown up there, graduated HS there (often with good grades, as many were the children of intelectuals), but couldn’t legally work or go to college… or “back home” to a country they’d never been to anyway. I don’t know whether the issue got solved or how, in any of the changes that there have been to immigration laws.

In Spain, asylum includes the authorization to stay permanently and to work; I find several articles on work being done towards harmonization of asylum criteria throughout the EU, but from what I remember and from what I find, it’s still “being worked on”.

I can’t really tell if this is what you’re interested in or not, but I helped a gay man from Jamaica get asylum here in the states a few years back. I’m sort of trying to remember here… IIRC, the package that came with his asylum paperwork included information about various assistance programs that he qualified for. If it wasn’t there, then the organization that coordinated the assistance, Immigration Equality, definitely told him about them. So in the US, at least, asylees do have some ability to qualify for various forms of public/private assistance.

As to Snowden in particular, it’s a whole weird thing. I’d think that his biggest problem would be lack of language skills–but it’s apparently possible to get by in Russia speaking practically none of the language.

I know at least one of the job programs at Goodwill is limited to non-citizens (legal residents, refugees, and the like), and I’ve met a few refugees there, that were looking for work. So clearly at least some refugees are expected to support themselves. What government wants to support a bunch of foreigners for the rest of their lives (even if they are coming from intolerable conditions)?

I’m thinking more of these high profile specialized cases - people who leave on the spur of the moment and are not going on welfare. (Recently a prominent Russian economist left Russia fearing arrest - same situation, for the most part.)

But how do you know they’re not? If they happen to pick a country where that’s the only source of income for asylees and they’re not given a special treatment, that’s what they’ll have to do.

This doesn’t sound correct to me with regard to the US-born children. Anyone born in the US is a US citizen. A citizen couldn’t, to the best of my knowledge, be prevented from legally getting a job or going to college just because of who their parents were.


Why wouldn’t they go on welfare? Anyone who qualifies for asylum is presumably escaping a situation that would make going on welfare look pretty appealing in comparison.

My WAG is that the Russian government set’s Snowden up in an apartment somewhere and gives him a pension; isn’t that what they did with defectors during the Cold War?

Here in the U.S. a know of one person who was a low level guy in the Sandinista government in Nicaragua that claimed asylum because whatever information he knew or possessed would supposedly get him tortured/killed. He found his way to the US, got arrested, and was going to get deported before my buddy’s law firm took his case pro bono and got him the asylum. He now does construction in Ohio and has never been happier.

Asylum in the U.S. comes with employment authorization, and has as long as I’ve dealt with immigration issues professionally (since 1990). Finding a job is quite another matter. When I worked with Soviet refugees in 1990-91, they qualified for some cash assistance plus medical and other benefits, but for a limited period (at least for the cash assistance). But that may be decided on a state-by-state level; I wasn’t involved with that side of things, because my job was to help people find jobs and update/Americanize their skills if needed. My agency (a nonprofit) was funded by private donations and some government grants.

Why wouldn’t the offer from VKontakte be genuine? The value of the publicity they would get from employing Snowden would more than pay his salary for one year. VKontakte could even let him work remotely from an undisclosed location.

There is also a lot of contract programming houses in Russia that do outsourced work for international companies, so their working language is english. In this regard he probably has a lot more chance of getting real work than he would in Venezuela.

Well NZ’s most famous asylum seeker Ahmed Zaoui went on to sell kebabs.

I really don’t see why not, unless their business is crooked or somehow involves violating people’s rights or expectations of privacy, or some such. Whatever one may think of the rightness or wrongness, or teh good sense, of Snowden’s actions, it is clear that he is not a common criminal and did not act for personal gain, but out of a, perhaps misplaced, sense of morality. He seems to have a particular bee in his bonnet about the right to privacy and excessive government power. None of that would make him likely to be a problem employee for most honest private businesses, and Russians are probably not being propagandized with the same calumnies about him that Americans no doubt are.