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Refugee Resettlement

Welcoming, helping and empowering individuals and families seeking refuge in the Ocean State


Dorcas International is currently one of two agencies in Rhode Island authorized by the U.S. Department of State to resettle refugees arriving to the United States.

As a resettlement agency, we are responsible for providing for the immediate needs of newly arrived refugees. These needs include airport pick-up, securing housing, providing intensive case management, health screenings, enrolling children in school, enrolling adults in ESL classes in our in-house education and training programs, providing cultural orientation, and much more. 

Our goal

Our goal is to empower recently arrived refugees by providing them with the necessary tools and information to successfully transition into their new communities. The U.S. government places refugees in 49 states by working with nine private non-profit national agencies, and Dorcas International is an affiliate partner of one of these official agencies. The underlying, main goals throughout the process are for refugees to achieve self-sufficiency and integrate into the community.

Who is a refugee

To understand the refugee resettlement process, it is important to know the definition of a refugee: one who flees.  

However, when we discuss our refugee resettlement program, we are describing a definition of refugee designated by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), which is: A person who is forced to flee his/her home country and is unable to return to that country because of a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

Refugees go through a rigorous screening process, which starts with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), and the most vulnerable cases are referred to the US Refugee Admissions Program for resettlement. The processing of a refugee application could take years, sometimes as long as two decades, before a refugee is approved for resettlement to the United States.

What we do

We respond to the immediate needs of refugees being resettled in Rhode Island. 

Our role is to offer a helping hand to families and individuals immediately upon arrival. We help them determine eligibility for benefits, navigate the healthcare system, connect them to community resources, and much more.

Refugees have access to all of our services: adult education, English language classes, job readiness trainings, immigration and citizenship legal services, counseling, clothing and necessities, housing, and more.

Educating the public

Part of our efforts to successfully resettle refugees is to educate communities on how to build welcoming and inclusive environments. We do this in a variety of ways — from offering trainings and public education projects to gathering and disseminating information about refugee resettlement.

Newly arrived refugees are often in great distress and need. Many have arrived with no literacy skills and with significant physical or mental health issues. Often refugees have walked off the plane with only the clothes on their backs and their documents. We continuously need supplies to assist newly-arrived refugees establish homes in our community and adjust to their new lives. 

What you can do

Refugee Resettlement depends heavily on individual and group volunteers to help new arrivals. There are many opportunities for you to help. Public support takes many shapes: clothing donations, financial gifts, volunteering, inviting us to speak to your organization or class, and simply learning more — community support is crucial to the work we do.

Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island strives to create a welcoming environment for all, working to empower the most vulnerable among us for the past 100 years. We meet our clients where they are by providing integrated, wraparound programs and services helping those seeking to overcome educational, cultural, economic, and language barriers.