North Dakota Petroleum Council creates recruitment-through-immigration program
Tuesday, April 11, 2023

The North Dakota Petroleum Council (NDPC) is responding to the workforce shortage for its oil and natural gas company members by creating a new program called Bakken GROW (Global Recruitment of Oilfield Workers) which will be an innovative way to bring new workers to the Bakken region through immigration.

Ukrainian workers are being recruited to North Dakota with the new "Uniting for Ukraine" (U4U) streamlined immigration process providing Ukrainian citizens, who have fled since Russia's invasion, an opportunity if they want to come to the United States and work immediately. U4U builds on the robust humanitarian assistance the U.S. government is providing trying to find hosts for Ukrainian citizens and others who have been displaced.

To assist with workforce development efforts, NDPC has hired former Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford to be the project manager of Bakken GROW. Sanford will be the lead liaison between member companies and immigration recruitment agencies to assist with the process of bringing workers to North Dakota to work in the Bakken.

NDPC’s first initiative will recruit workers from Ukraine through Humanitarian Sponsorships of legal immigrants with assistance from firms that specialize in immigration.

“The Bakken GROW program is a humanitarian mission and a workforce solution. The NDPC staff and membership are excited to begin sharing the hospitality of North Dakota and the tremendous Bakken career opportunities with a wider group of individuals,” Sanford said.

Based on the experience of an immigrant recruiting firm in Alaska, they have found workers from Ukraine who are exempt from fighting in their home country, have advanced educational degrees, and are trying to find good-paying jobs for a time so they can support their families back home. Hundreds of immigrant workers from Ukraine have already found employment in Alaska in the last 12 months working for oil drilling and seafood processing companies.

There are over 40 million Ukrainians, including 7 million refugees. The Ukrainian armed forces have 700,000 active personnel and 1.1 million reserve personnel. There are 7 million Ukrainians fit for military service. These are Ukrainians who are eligible for foreign employment, have fulfilled their military obligation, have 3 or more children, and completed the immigration paperwork in Ukraine and the U.S. Since the beginning of the war with Russia, 100,000 Ukrainians have been allowed to enter the U.S. to find work. The U4U program is a continuation of that effort allowing immediate work authorization to Ukrainians granted approval and who are in need of jobs and opportunities.

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