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Refugee Services

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Refugee Services

Refugee Services: Empowering New Beginnings in Michigan

The Office of Global Michigan’s Refugee Services team is dedicated to fostering the successful resettlement and integration of refugees across the state. Our comprehensive programs address various aspects such as state refugee policy, employment, education, health, digital literacy/English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) sponsorship, youth support, unaccompanied minors and data reporting.

By leveraging federal, state and local resources and collaborating with nonprofits, we strive to provide essential social services, ensuring individuals can embark on a new journey, achieve self-sufficiency and seamlessly integrate into their new communities.

"The Office of Global Michigan’s goal is to make Michigan the home for opportunity for our immigrant, refugee and ethnic communities. With expanded refugee resettlement pathways, everyday Michiganders can provide refuge and build a state where people are welcomed with open arms." - Poppy Hernandez, Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer and Director of the Office of Global Michigan.

Social Services: Maximizing Potential for Collective Success

The Refugee Assistance Program is a federally funded program which helps persons admitted into the U.S. as refugees to become self-sufficient after their arrival. Refugee cash assistance and refugee medical assistance is available to eligible refugees for up to twelve months after entry into the U.S., or from the date asylum was granted.

Individuals may be eligible if they have one of the following immigration statuses:

  • Refugee or Asylee
  • Cuban/Haitian entrant or parolee
  • Amerasian
  • Victim of trafficking/T-Visa holders
  • Iraqi or Afghan Special Immigrant VISA (SIV) holders

Immigration status is determined by officials from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

For more information on Refugee Assistance, visit the MDHHS page.

Refugee Services

Refugee Services programs focus on leveraging federal, state and local resources to enable refugees to contribute to their highest potential. Contracting with non-profit and local agencies, we provide social services to support individuals in rebuilding their lives, including the following.

Employability Services

  • Employment services, job development, placement and retention.
  • Vocational training, language instruction and professional recertification.
  • Transportation, translation and assistance with official documents.

Services to Refugee Youth

  • College and career planning, mentoring and life skills courses.

Other Social Services

  • Information and referral services.
  • Health-related services.
  • Home-management/financial literacy services.

Services to Older Refugees

  • Integration services, citizenship/naturalization preparation and community education.

School Impact Services

  • Integration and orientation for students and parents.
  • Tutoring, English for Speakers of Other Languages and support for school personnel.

Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program

  • Global Michigan's Refugee Services Program collaborates with Bethany Christian Services and Samaritas to provide foster care services to unaccompanied refugee, asylee, trafficked and special immigrant juvenile (SIJS) youth. The Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) program helps unaccompanied minors develop skills for adulthood and achieve social self-sufficiency.

Refugee Resettlement

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The federal Department of State collaborates with national voluntary/private resettlement agencies to determine the allocation of refugees to specific regions or states. In Michigan, six agencies, supported by the federal Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) within the Department of State, play a pivotal role. They offer crucial initial reception and placement services during the first 30 to 90 days in the United States for individuals arriving with refugee status. This collaborative effort ensures a comprehensive and supportive start for those beginning their journey in their new home.

FAQ - Navigating Humanitarian Statuses and Immigration

Disclaimer: The information provided in the following questions and answers is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Individuals seeking direct assistance should consult a reputable immigration counselor and/or an attorney specializing in immigration law. Referral information can be obtained from the Michigan Office for New Americans Hotline at 517-335-1181 or via email at newamericans@michigan.gov.

    • What is ORR?
      • ORR, the Office of Refugee Resettlement, operates within the US Department of Health and Human Services.
    • What is USCIS?
      • USCIS, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, is an office under the US Department of Homeland Security.
    • What is PRM?
      • PRM, the Bureau of Populations, Refugees, and Migration, is a bureau within the US Department of State.
    • Who is a Refugee?
      • A refugee is any person outside their country, unwilling or unable to return due to a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
    • Who is an Asylee?
      • An asylee is an individual who applies for and receives asylum while in the U.S. or on U.S. territory, based on the same qualifying reasons as a refugee.
    • Who is a Special Immigrant Visa Holder?
      • Special Immigrant Visa holders are individuals who assisted U.S. military objectives in Iraq and Afghanistan. While they share similarities with refugees, they are a distinct immigration class eligible for the same services.
    • Who is an Entrant?
      • An "Entrant" refers to a Cuban/Haitian Entrant, someone given special status, pending or granted, facing exclusion or deportation proceedings, or applying for asylum with USCIS.
    • Who is a Certified Victim of Human Trafficking?
      • A person certified or determined eligible under the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act, having experienced severe forms of trafficking. Eligibility for a T Visa requires meeting specific criteria.
    • Who is an Unaccompanied Refugee Minor?
      • A child under 18, a refugee, asylee, entrant, trafficking victim or youth with Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) or U-Visa status, lacking a parent or guardian and classified as an Unaccompanied Refugee Minor (URM) by the U.S. Department of State.
    •  Who is a Special Immigrant Juvenile?
      • A foreign-born child under 21, not married, determined by a court to be abused, neglected or abandoned, with no reunification with birth family, and slated to remain in the U.S.
    • Who is an Unaccompanied Child?
      • A child receiving direct funding and oversight from ORR, known as an Unaccompanied Alien Child (UAC), including those entering the country without a legal guardian.
    • What is a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR)?
      • LPRs, or "green card" holders, are non-citizens authorized to live permanently in the U.S. They can apply for citizenship after meeting residency requirements.
    • What is a U.S. Citizen Repatriate?
      • A U.S. citizen repatriate and dependents return from a foreign country due to poverty, illness, war, or crisis, certified by the U.S. Department of State for eligibility.
    • What is an Immigrant?
      • An immigrant, under the Immigration and Nationality Act, is any person in the U.S., excluding those legally admitted under specific nonimmigrant categories.
    • What is a Non-immigrant?
      • Non-immigrants are individuals entering the US temporarily for a specific purpose, with various classifications such as students, workers and visitors.
    • What is an Undocumented Person?
      • An undocumented person enters the US without a valid immigrant or non-immigrant visa.
    • Special Help for Refugees:
      • Refugee Services administers federal and state programs. Review our Social Services & Programming and Refugee Assistance pages for available programs and benefits.
    • Refugee Admissions Process:
      • The number of refugees admitted annually is determined by Presidential determination, approved by Congress and implemented by the U.S. Department of State in collaboration with national resettlement agencies.
    • College Loans for Refugees
      • Refugees can apply for federal and state-funded loans and tuition assistance for college. Information can be obtained from the US Department of Education.
    • Undocumented Immigrants and Refugee Status:
      • Undocumented immigrants are not officially considered refugees in the U.S. and are ineligible for services under federally funded programs administered by MONA's Refugee Services program.

Explore Further

For questions or to request additional information on these programs, contact the Office of Global Michigan at LEO-RefugeeServices@michigan.gov.