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 local schools and providing links to educational and developmental opportunities that build academic, personal and social skills.
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.
New Roots gardening programs aim to engage low-income families in urban agriculture, nutrition education and assistance accessing healthy food.
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: Our current opportunities include family mentorship, receptionist, resettlement shop, housing set-up, and Generation Rescue (GenR).
Purchase an item from our Amazon wishlist: staff will distribute these in-demand items to new families.
Donate specific items: check this list for our current needs and donation drop-off times.
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.
Hire a refugee: Refugees are eager to work. If you own a business or are a hiring professional, contact our employment team for more information.
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.
Join Baltimore's GenR chapter: work with other humanitarians between the ages of 25 and 40 who have joined forces with the IRC for advocacy and special projects. Contact us to learn more or sign up for the next event.
Against the Odds: A Journey to Citizenship
Boi Pessima came to the U.S. in 2005 to reunite with her father and siblings to obtain better care for her daughter Mary but leaving her oldest son behind in Sirra Leone. Five years after receiving her green card, she applied for citizenship but was denied twice. She reached out to the immigration team at the IRC and with their support she was able to pass her interview. Now, fourteen years after her arrival in the U.S., she is a U.S. citizen and is excited to vote.
Intern Spotlight: An interview with Keshet Benschikovski
April is National Volunteer Month and the IRC is grateful for our network of over 250 volunteers and interns each year. Last year our volunteers contributed 23,304 hours of labor, the equivalent to over 11 full-time staff members. This month we are featuring an interview with our Logistics and Casework Intern, Keshet Benschikovski, a student at American University’s School of International Service, as she shares why she's proud to work with the IRC in Maryland.
Staff Spotlight: Yassin Yassin shares his story
As a former refugee from Eritrea, Yassin has a unique understanding of how the resettlement process works. Though his work as a caseworker for the IRC in Baltimore, he is able to share his experiences and assist newly arrived refugees and Asylees as they rebuild their lives.
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.