Resources about Refugees

Refugees come to Illinois through a public-private partnership between the U.S. Department of State, nine private agencies called voluntary agencies, and local nonprofit resettlement agencies. In Chicago, six resettlement agencies are contracted to provide services to help refugee families relocate and integrate to the greatest extent possible within their first three months in the United States.

Government Organizations

Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration
The Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), part of the U.S. State Department, has primary responsibility for formulating policies on population, refugees, and migration, and for administering U.S. refugee assistance and admissions programs. The Bureau works with the international community to develop solutions for displacement, including repatriation, local integration, and resettlement.

Illinois Department of Human Services – Refugee
Information regarding Illinois Refugee Services.

Office for Refugee Resettlement—U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) provides new populations with opportunities to maximize their potential in the United States, linking people in need to critical resources to assist them in becoming integrated members of American society. Specific programs (anti-trafficking, repatriation, services for survivors of torture, unaccompanied children’s services, unaccompanied refugee minors), grant opportunities, policy information, and more and available. 

Refugee Arrival Data—Office of Refugee Resettlement
View historical refugee arrival data by country of origin and state of initial resettlement. 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Refugee, immigration and citizenship information and legal documents are explained.

U.S. State Department
The Department is responsible for promoting peace and stability in areas of vital interest to America, and helping developing nations establish stable economic environments. The Office of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources ensures the strategic and effective allocation, management, and use of foreign assistance resources.

National Voluntary Agencies

Nine private resettlement agencies are contracted with the U.S. Government to coordinate with local agencies who settle refugees.

Church World Service (CWS)
CWS works with partners to eradicate hunger and poverty and to promote peace and justice around the world. Efforts focus on hunger and malnutrition, disaster relief, refugee assistance, and grassroots development.

Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM)
The national refugee resettlement program of the Episcopal Church, EMM's 30 affiliate agencies collectively serve thousands of uprooted refugees every year. Services in Chicago are provided through a partnership with RefugeeOne.

Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC)
ECDC provides refugee resettlement and social services, strengthens community-based organizations, and engages in public education and advocacy on behalf of refugees.

Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)
HIAS assists refugees in camps and through immigration and resettlement. Programs also include education, advocacy, citizenship tutoring, and emotional and legal support.

International Rescue Committee (IRC)
The IRC responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people to survive and rebuild their lives. IRC offers life-saving care and assistance to refugees forced to flee from war or disaster.

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS)
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, a faith-based organization, desires to see a world where “all migrants and refugees are protected, embraced and empowered in a world of just and welcoming communities;” they help build and educate on what it means to be a welcoming community as well as create sustainable ways for people to participate with refugee work through ministries of service and justice. Chicago services are provided through RefugeeOne.

U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI)
USCRI defends the rights of refugees and asylum seekers worldwide. Through advocacy campaigns and direct services, USCRI seeks protection and dignity for the world’s most vulnerable people

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops—Migration and Refugee Services
In partnership with its affiliates, USCCB/MRS resettles approximately 30 percent of the refugees that arrive in the U.S. each year. The Catholic refugee resettlement network includes over 100 diocesan offices across the country and in Guam and Puerto Rico.

World Relief
World Relief provides initial resettlement and placement as well as employment, youth, education and legal services to refugees entering the United States. World Relief also collaborates with local churches and community members to come alongside vulnerable families as they begin their new lives.

Chicago Area Resettlement Agencies

Services vary with each organization but generally include housing, education, advocacy, citizenship tutoring, emotional and legal support, along with financial and employment assistance.

Catholic Charities Chicago Diocese—Refugee Resettlement Services

Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago

Heartland Alliance


World Relief - Chicago

World Relief - DuPage/Aurora

Other Refugee Organizations and Resources

Cultural Orientation Resource Center (Center for Applied Linguistics)—U.S. Refugee Program
The Cultural Orientation Resource (COR) Center provides important orientation resources for refugee newcomers and service providers throughout the United States and overseas.

Dave's ESL Cafe
The Internet’s meeting place for ESL + EFL teachers + students from around the world. Dave’s ESL Cafe has resources on jobs, links for teachers, information for students, and ESL information. 

Golden Door Coalition
The Golden Door Coalition is a coalition of individuals and organizations committed to the resettlement of refugees in Illinois with dignity and the support necessary to thrive in our nation.

Higher provides career entry and advancement support for resettled refugees. Previously RefugeeWorks, this program is the government’s principle training and technical assistance provider for employment and self-sufficiency. Through a network of more than 300 partners nationwide, refugees gain economic self-sufficiency.

Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
ICIRR is dedicated to promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees to full and equal participation in the civic, cultural, social, and political life of society. In partnership with member organizations, the Coalition educates and organizes immigrant and refugee communities to assert their rights; promotes citizenship and civic participation; monitors, analyzes, and advocates on immigrant-related issues; and, informs the general public about the contributions of immigrants and refugees.

InterAction is an alliance organization in Washington, D.C. of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) working for the benefit of the world’s poor and vulnerable people. The collective voice of the NGO community seeks to share their varied expertise to address global poverty and deliver humanitarian aid in every developing country. 

International Association for Refugees (IAFR)
IAFR works with local churches and refugee churches to effectively help displaced people integrate into their new society.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
The IFRC is the world’s largest humanitarian organization providing assistance without discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions. IFRC believes in building a spirit of hope, giving people dignity, and creating equity for vulnerable people, including refugees. 

International Organization for Migration
The International Organization for Migration believes that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society. IOM seeks to assist in migration management, help people understand migration issues, create further social and economic development as a result of migration, and maintain the dignity of all migrants.

International Teams Refugee Ministry
International Teams Refugee Ministry works to bring people together to help the oppressed. Programs around the world help to meet the spiritual and physical needs of refugees in camps and after resettlement.

Refugee Highway Partnership
The Refugee Highway Partnership grew out of a vision to connect the many different people involved in ministry at diverse points along the refugee highway. The organization seeks to create a community to facilitate and strengthen refugee ministries across the globe.

Refugees International
Refugees International is an advocacy organization that provokes action from global leaders to resolve refugee crises. It does not accept government or United Nations funding. Through field missions, it annually identifies needs of displaced people and challenges policy makers and aid agencies to improve the lives of displaced people around the world by presenting solutions.

The Center: Resources for Teaching and Learning
The Center provides professional development and instructional resources for a broad range of communities including early childhood, adults, family educators, service learning, and ESL programs.

The United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Established through the United Nations General Assembly, The United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees leads international action regarding refugee needs worldwide, existing primarily to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. It strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or to resettle in a third country. It also has a mandate to help stateless people.

USA for UNHCR supports the UN Refugee Agency’s life-saving and life-changing work to help refugees and other displaced people. Together with UNHCR, they strive to meet the needs of the world’s most vulnerable people through education, advocacy and fundraising in the United States.

UNHCR—Teacher’s Corner
The UNHCR believes that education is central to the public awareness work surrounding refugee needs. The Teacher’s Corner provides lesson plans, teaching materials, posters, and DVDs to use in an effort to integrate refugee concerns into education. 

UNHCR Photo Galleries
The UNHCR offers more than 250,000 refugee-related photos free for media use.