What is a refugee?

A refugee is a person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her country of origin because of past persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution, based on the person’s race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.


  1. Refugees flee their homeland, usually to a neighboring country, known as the country of first asylum.
  2. In the country of first asylum, refugees register with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) or the American Embassy. The UNHCR provides protection, shelter, emergency food, water, medical care and other life-saving assistance to more than 36 million people worldwide who have been forced to flee their homes due to war, persecution, and natural disasters.
  3. Refugees are interviewed by the Department of Homeland Security and undergo security clearances from the FBI and receive comprehensive health screenings prior to receiving approval to come to the U.S.
  4. Refugees are allocated to one of several national resettlement agencies at a joint weekly meeting of Voluntary Agencies (VOLAGS). Refugees arrive in the U.S. and are greeted by local resettlement agency staff at the airport.

What are the needs?

  • Reception and Placement Services
  • Health Services
  • Employment Services
  • Case Management Services
  • English as a Second Language Classes
  • Pre-GED Classes
  • Cultural Orientation
  • Driver’s Education
  • School Services