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The IRC in New Jersey

The International Rescue Committee provides opportunities for refugees, asylees, victims of human trafficking, survivors of torture, and other immigrants to thrive in America. Each year, thousands of people, forced to flee violence and persecution, are welcomed by the people of the United States into the safety and freedom of America. These individuals have survived against incredible odds. The IRC works with government bodies, civil society actors, and local volunteers to help them translate their past experiences into assets that are valuable to their new communities. In Elizabeth and other offices across the country, the IRC helps them to rebuild their lives.

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Who are refugees?

Refugees are people fleeing violence and persecution—in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and other countries in crisis. They are seeking safety and the chance to move their lives forward.

Why are refugees arriving in Elizabeth and other parts of northern New Jersey?

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 1 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, employment opportunities and ability to access health and other support services. However, as legal immigrants, refugees may live in any city and state they choose.

Learn more about how refugee resettlement works

What are refugees’ immediate needs?

With funds provided through the Department of State's Reception and Placement (R&P) program, refugees are provided with safe, sanitary and affordable housing and basic furniture and household supplies upon arrival in New Jersey. Until refugees become self-sufficient, immediate needs may include access to healthcare, food, transportation and clothing. Refugees may also need assistance obtaining employment, enrolling their children in school and cultural orientation to effectively navigate their new communities.

How does the IRC help refugees and immigrants in New Jersey?

The IRC in New Jersey offers a variety of programs to meet the needs of newly arrived refugees, individuals granted asylum or humanitarian parole, and the local immigrant population:


  • Reception and Placement services for refugees within the first 90 days of arrival include access to safe housing, culturally-appropriate food, health screenings, cultural orientation and referrals for English training, employment assistance and other benefits.
  • Intensive case management up to one year post-arrival for refugees with medical and mental health needs.
  • Ongoing support services as needed up to five years post-arrival.
  • Family reunification through resettlement: Qualifying family members in the U.S. can file an AOR (Affidavit of Relationship) to bring relatives to the United States through the refugee program. 

Economic Empowerment

  • Employment services: Vocational counseling, résumé preparation, job readiness training, job search and placement services, and financial assistance for basic needs with the goal of helping refugees find their first job in America and achieve early self-sufficiency. 
  • Career development and professional mentorship: Refugees proficient in English and seeking to reenter their chosen career fields in the U.S. are paired with professional mentors and provided ongoing placement, training and professional certification support.

Education & Learning

  • English classes for speakers of other languages (ESOL) targeted for refugees, but open to all adult immigrants in the community as space is available. 
  • Job readiness classes focused on U.S. work culture and preparing refugees for employment in their new community.
  • Civics and citizenship classes to support legal permanent residents in the process of becoming U.S. citizens.
  • Refugee youth program serving over 100 school aged youth with assessments of educational background, school enrollment, parent engagement, language interpretation, and coordination with school staff to promote academic success and psychosocial adjustment. 


  • Accredited by the U.S. Department of Justice Board of Immigration Appeals, IRC staff is fully qualified to provide high quality assistance at low cost to refugees and other immigrants. 

How can I help refugees in New Jersey?

There are many ways that you can get involved with the IRC’s work in New Jersey. You can: 

Donate: Give a tax-deductible financial contribution either via the website or sent to our office.

Volunteer Opportunities: Learn how to become an IRC volunteer and take a look at current opportunities.

Internship Opportunities: See our current list of internship opportunities.

Spread the Word: Consider hosting your own Fundraising Campaign (on- or offline). Stay connected via our newsletter, follow us on Facebook, and ask others to do the same!

Corporate Engagement Opportunities: We invite our partners to organize corporate volunteer opportunities.

Grocery Shopping and Food Delivery: IRC works with a network of community partners to deliver weekly groceries to families as food assistance benefits are processed. If you’re available to purchase or deliver to families in Union, Hudson or Essex Counties, please email Westfield Fun Club. If you’re based in Jersey City, please email Welcome Home Jersey City. If you’re available to help with grocery delivery in other areas of NJ, please complete IRC’s general interest form.

Apartment Setups and Household Supply Donations: IRC works with a network of community partners to set up new apartments for refugee families, mostly in Hudson, Union and Essex counties. Email One World One Love to get notified when new apartments are ready for setup and when household supplies are needed.

Furniture Donations: IRC cannot accept or store donations of furniture. We partner with The Warehouse NJ to furnish new homes for refugee families

Other In-Kind Donations: IRC collects specific donations based on needs of current families and logistics capacity of staff. Please consider purchasing items off our current Amazon Wish Lists for Beds and Mattresses, Car Seats and Other Items in partnership with Jersey Cares.

Other Ways to Get Involved: Please complete this form to tell us how you’re interested in helping newly arriving refugees who are making a home in New Jersey, including co-sponsoring a family, hiring refugees or offering housing.

What do refugees contribute to New Jersey?

Once they acclimate to their new environment, refugees often thrive and contribute to their communities, building careers, purchasing homes and gaining citizenship.


Welcome from our director

Each day we witness the IRC’s mission realized in New Jersey; people whose lives have been shattered by conflict and disaster surviving, recovering and gaining control of their future. Through a holistic suite of services including case management, employment assistance, youth programming, and immigration services, the IRC helps refugees, asylees and other immigrants regain a sense of stability, safety, and self-respect to become self-sufficient, contributing members of their new community in New Jersey.

Avigail ZivAvigail Ziv is Executive Director of the IRC's New Jersey office.

Our impact

In one year, the IRC and our partners in the United States helped:


individuals from refugee and immigrant communities

We help people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover and regain control of their future.

See our impact at a glance

refugees resettle across the country and rebuild their lives

The IRC helps refugees fleeing war and persecution to rebuild their lives in over 20 U.S. cities.

Learn about refugees in America

people with training to help them build careers and income.

Our economic empowerment support includes financial coaching, vocational training and asset building.

Learn more

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