SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — It’s now been nearly three months since Russia invaded Ukraine and thousands of refugees have fled the country looking for safety right here in Sacramento.
But many are now struggling with a new problem: trying to get jobs here at the same time many businesses are struggling to hire more workers.
Daria has a Master’s degree in logistics, Kate has experience in international finance and Marko is a musician who was featured on Ukraine’s version of “The Voice.” All are war refugees from Ukraine now living in Sacramento and want to find work.
“I just want to do something,” Kate said.
Kate left Kyiv on the first day fighting broke out, filming a video of Ukrainian tanks entering the town as she fled. She left her parents, brother and everything else behind.
“It was very scary,” she said.
Now, she wants to get a job, applying for a federal work permit two months ago – but she still hasn’t got a response.
“I really would like to work because actually I’m the kind of person I all the time need to do something,” she said.
Daria and her sister Sonia have been waiting for five weeks.
“I have already received some job offers but I can’t start work because I have no work permit,” Daria said.
It comes at a time businesses say there’s a severe worker shortage and many local companies are posting “help wanted” signs.
“They need workers but they need workers with the documents,” Daria said.
Vlad Skots with Ukrainian American House helps refugees once they’re here and has met with Washington, D.C., politicians trying to expedite the process. He says Afghan refugees had a different filing process and were able to get work authorization in less than 30 days, but he’s been told it could take a year or more for people from Ukraine.
“They want to pay for themselves, they want to pay rent, they want to pay taxes, they want to work in this country,” Skots said.
“When I see the possibility for me to do something and then I can’t do this, it’s really sad,” Kate said.
Many of the refugees have been relying on friends or donations to help with their expenses while they wait for work authorization.