How Refugee Resettlement Works

Finding the Right Fit

When a refugee is identified for resettlement in the U.S. — and before their flight is arranged — LIRS sits down with our resettlement agency peers to determine the best city and partner for each case.

During this process, LIRS experts take into account the refugee’s country of origin, the language they speak, where in the country they might have family members, and other important factors such as physical disabilities or mental health needs. Based on this information, LIRS and the other agencies will identify which of our collective network partners is best equipped to support each individual or family.

One of our partners, for example, is located in a city with a robust community of Bhutanese refugees. Because of the the cultural support there — and the fact that local partner staff speak the language — LIRS might decide to resettle a new refugee case from Bhutan at that location.

From the Airport to Self Sufficiency

When a refugee first arrives at the airport, they are greeted by LIRS partner staff and brought to a home or apartment that has been prepared for them in advance–stocked with modest furniture, culturally familiar foods, and all of the basic amenities of an American home.

Over the course of the next few months, case managers support the individual or family in learning to navigate their new community. Adults are enrolled in English language classes, children are enrolled in school, and LIRS partners guide the refugee(s) in using public transportation and accessing community resources. They are introduced to new neighbors and church and community groups that will play an important role in providing each refugee with support and companionship for years to come.

Case managers support refugees in learning financial literacy and help them find a job or vocational calling that will be a stepping stone towards self-sufficiency.

Cultural Orientation

Resettlement agencies play a critical role in the resettlement and ultimate integration of refugees to their new communities. In the first three months following their arrival in the U.S., refugees are put through cultural orientation — a set of informal and formal trainings that help them adjust to cultural norms and new situations. During this time, refugees will learn about everything from basic safety principles and U.S. laws to employer expectations and banking and finance.

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