Refugee Assistance

Who is a refugee?

The U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement defines a refugee as:

"Any person who is outside any country of such person's nationality or, in the case of a person having no nationality, is outside any country in which such person last habitually resided, and who is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

Individuals granted refugee status overseas by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security are brought to the United States for resettlement by the U.S. Department of State. Voluntary agencies and ORR through their programs assist with their resettlement and integration into the U.S. Refugees are eligible to receive ORR benefits and services from the first day they arrive in the U.S."  (Office of Refugee Resettlement - Who We Serve)

Click here for a summary of the documentation needed to prove refugee status.  It is recommended that you find a lawyer to help you navigate the complexities of applying for this status.  Click here for a list of refugee service providers

Refugee benefits

Refugees are eligible for certain benefits for a limited basis:

During the first 30 days after a refugee's arrival in Massachusetts, voluntary agencies who resettle refugees provide basic needs support including:

  • assistance with housing
  • furnishings
  • food and other basic necessities
  • clothing, and
  • transportation to job interviews and job training

During the first 90 days after arrival, community orientation services are also provided including:

  • assistance in applying for social security cards
  • registering children for school
  • using public transportation, facilities, and services

The Office for Immigrants and Refugees (ORI) summarizes some these basic benefits.
ORI has also provided a list of refugee resettlement providers.