The IRC in Baltimore, MD
The International Rescue Committee provides opportunities for refugees, asylees, victims of human trafficking, survivors of torture and other immigrants to thrive in Baltimore and around Maryland.
The IRC works with government bodies, civil society actors and local volunteers to help refugees and immigrants integrate and contribute to our communities.
Read more below for more information on the U.S. refugee resettlement program, available services in Baltimore and how to get involved.
In Baltimore and other offices across the country, the IRC helps refugees and immigrants to thrive and rebuild their lives.
How do refugees arrive in the U.S. and Baltimore?
Refugees are people fleeing violence and persecution—in Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, and other countries in crisis. They are seeking safety and the chance to move their lives forward.
The United States has a long tradition of sheltering those fleeing conflict and persecution. Once refugees have been identified by the United Nations refugee agency and cleared for resettlement, the U.S. government works with the IRC and eight other national resettlement agencies to help them restart their lives in America. Out of the nearly 20 million refugees in the world, fewer than one percent are considered for resettlement worldwide.
Refugees may be placed in a city where they have relatives or friends, or where there’s an established community that shares their language or culture. Other considerations include the cost of living and a community’s ability to provide medical services. However, as legal U.S. residents, refugees may live in any city and state they choose.
Although even many locals may not know it, Baltimore has a long history of being a destination for refugees – from people fleeing pogroms in the early 20th century to Soviet refugees in the 1980s and 90s. In fact, Old Bay Seasoning, Baltimore’s iconic spice, was invented by a refugee who had fled Nazi-occupied Germany. The IRC in Baltimore opened in 1999.
Refugees contribute to Baltimore city and surrounding counties as new residents, taxpayers, employees, students, home and business owners, and neighbors.
What services does the IRC in Baltimore provide?
IRC programs are designed to ensure refugees thrive in Maryland. Our services in Baltimore include:
Resettlement: meeting the basic needs for food, shelter and legal rights in the early, critical stages of resettlement.
Health and Wellness: promoting wellness and ensuring access to healthcare services that address physical and psychological needs.
Youth: supporting students and families to succeed in U.S. schools.
Community Integration: referrals and connections to partner agencies, public benefits, IRC family mentors or other community support.
Economic Empowerment: protecting, supporting and improving household livelihoods and financial security.
Interpreter Services Program: providing professional interpretation for all resettlement programs.
Immigration Legal Services: offering high-quality, affordable assistance with USCIS petitions and processes.
Read below for more details or to request specific services.
How does the IRC support the social and cultural integration of refugees?
IRC staff work closely with community groups, volunteers, schools, neighbors and many others to support refugees in Baltimore and the surrounding communities.
New refugee arrivals are greeted and welcomed at the airport upon arrival. Other individuals are assessed soon after services are requested to determine eligibility.
Case Management serves as the central point of contact, providing care and services to eligible refugees, asylees, parolees, special immigrant visa holders, and victims of trafficking. Caseworkers ensure that all clients receive high quality resettlement services and access to transitional adjustment services in accordance with government contracts and IRC policies.
Cultural Orientation provides intensive, language-specific classes to assist newly arrived refugees in learning about life in the Baltimore community.
Youth Case Management supports students and local schools through home visits, ongoing orientation and mediation.
Intensive Case Management provides additional support to participants with special needs beyond standard resettlement services.
Health Services connects participants to needed services and facilitates language-specific, culturally-appropriate adjustment groups.
To request services, please complete this appointment request form or call 410-327-1885, extension 111. We will contact you within 2-3 business days to schedule an assessment.
How does the IRC help refugees find first jobs, build a career and contribute to the local economy?
The Economic Empowerment Program at the IRC assists participants in securing employment, building personal financial success and becoming contributing members to the Baltimore economy. Programs include entry level employment, career development and an Individual Development Account program for Baltimore refugee homebuyers. Financial literacy is integrated into all programs.
Entry Level Employment connects eligible participants with a first job or entry level position. Services include pre-employment preparation, resume writing, application support and direct connections to our vast network of local employer partners.
Career Development connects eligible participants to living wage positions along a career path. Services include vocational skills training, vocational English language training and advanced job readiness training coupled with targeted employer outreach and job placement support.
Financial Capability and the Home Buyers Program are integrated into employment and casework programs, and financial capability ensures refugees have a basic understanding of household banking and budgeting. The home buyer program provides a generous match for first-time home buyers in Baltimore City.
To request services, please complete this appointment request form or call 410-327-1885, extension 111. We will contact you within 2-3 business days to schedule an appointment for an assessment.
If you are an employer interested in hiring refugees, please contact us. The IRC’s free employment services are available to help refugees and employers at every step of the way.
What immigration legal services does the IRC provide?
The IRC in Baltimore is recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice to provide immigration legal services.
Please note: Fees are charged for services and will be determined at the time of appointment. Services will not be denied based on the inability to pay.
To request an appointment, please email us or call 410-327-1885, extension 111.
The following services are available:
General consultation, starting at $50 for adults
Adjustment of status (green card)
Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) renewal
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewal
Renewal or replacement of documents
How can I get involved with the IRC in Baltimore?
There are many ways to get involved, depending on your interest and availability. You can:
Apply for an internship: each autumn, spring and summer we welcome a new cohort of interns.
Volunteer: current opportunities include family mentorship, receptionist, resettlement shop, housing set-up and a welcome home project. Review the position descriptions and attend the next info session to learn more!
Purchase an item from our Amazon wishlist: staff will distribute these in-demand items to new families.
Make an in-kind donation: check this list for our current needs and drop-off times. Note our storage space is limited so only pre-arranged drop-offs can be accepted.
Donate: make a tax-deductible financial contribution online or mail to our office.
Follow us on Facebook: get updates and featured stories. Use #RefugeesWelcome to show your support.
Rent apartments to refugees: the IRC arranges for refugees to rent their own apartments or houses. If you own or manage apartments or homes and would like to consider renting to refugees, contact our volunteer and housing coordinator.
Hire a humanitarian immigrant: our clients are eager to work. If you own a business or are a hiring professional, contact our employment team for more information.
Donating in-kind items
Read below to find out ways to donate in-kind items to IRC clients.
Build Your Future
On April 6th, the IRC, in partnership with Play-well TEKnologies and Peer to Peer, brought 155 students and family members to the University of Maryland for a morning of LEGO-inspired learning. This was the second time that IRC in Silver Spring has had the opportunity to team-up with Play-Well TEKnologies to host a community building event for recently resettled families. “The Play-Well team uses the universal language of fun! Participants ranged from babies to grandparents, all excited to explore a new place and imagine a future at UMD.
Women Empowering Women
Aliyah came to the US with her two children in 2016 and Maria arrived in December 2018 with her husband and eight children. Both came to the United States looking for a better future for themselves and for their families. They are a part of the Women’s Employability Program (WEP) at the IRC Baltimore; a program geared towards breaking the barriers of women that hinders their ability to work. The women in the WEP program are a network for each other. They are all indifferent parts of their journeys in the US,but they can all learn from each other’s experiences. There have been many challenges for these women stemming from them being forced to leave their home countries to start anew here in Baltimore. Now they have a new community that reminds them that they are not alone.
We succeed in assisting refugees only with the strong support of the various communities in Central Maryland. Refugee families benefit greatly from community volunteers, advocates, and donors. I urge you to become active in our efforts to assist refugees to establish a safe and secure life here in Baltimore and the surrounding areas (Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Frederick, Harford and Howard Counties).Ruben ChandrasekarRuben Chandrasekar is director of the IRC's Baltimore office.