The IRC in Oakland, CA

Each year, the U.S. welcomes thousands of people fleeing violence and persecution. The IRC walks alongside our new neighbors, helping them learn English, integrate into their new communities, and become self-reliant.

Since 1975, the IRC has welcomed 12,739 refugees to the Bay Area. Together with your support, we help more than 7,500 newcomers annually rebuild their lives, including refugees, asylees, victims of human trafficking, survivors of torture, and other immigrants.

Who does the IRC serve in Oakland?

We support people who have been displaced from their homes by things like conflict, violence, and persecution. Though their technical status may vary, one thing these individuals have in common is that they are seeking safety and opportunity to move their lives forward. 

This includes people with refugee status, those seeking or recently granted asylum, victims of human trafficking, survivors of torture, and more. In recent years, many have come from countries like Afghanistan, Ukraine, Syria, Guatemala, El Salvador, Eritrea, and Iran. Those with refugee status come to the U.S. through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, which partners with the IRC and nine other national resettlement agencies to help them restart their lives. Out of the 35.3 million refugees worldwide, fewer than 1 percent are considered for resettlement. 


Why are people seeking protection in Northern California?

The United States has a rich history of sheltering those fleeing conflict, violence, and persecution—a tradition the IRC is proud to carry on in Oakland today. Communities across Northern California are some of the nation’s most welcoming and are rich with resources to support refugees and immigrants. That’s why so many newcomers and indigenous communities make their home here. 

Oakland has been a Sanctuary City since 1986 and offers a safe space to newcomers of different status. The communities we serve—from Alameda and Contra Costa to San Francisco, Stanislaus, and Sonoma—are some of the most diverse in the nation and offer a strong network of support for families planting roots here.  

The IRC in Oakland is deeply collaborative with community partners across many sectors, from local educational institutions, corporations, and non-profits to employers and property owners. Thanks to support from a generous community and their own hard work and determination, newcomers from across the globe can thrive here in Oakland. 

How does the IRC help people who were forced to flee?

With support from people like you, the IRC helps newcomers as they rebuild their lives and regain control of their futures. Together, we walk alongside our new neighbors from the moment they arrive, helping them find work and start businesses to become self-reliant, enroll their children in school, and access the healthcare they need to recover from trauma and illness. 

As families adjust to life in the U.S., the IRC provides holistic support, ensuring they remain in stable housing, have access to nutritious food and quality health care, and develop computer, job, and financial literacy skills. We also provide legal services to help individuals become residents, citizens, and reunite with their families. 

Here at the IRC in Oakland, newcomers have access to many resources that are tailored to their cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Some of our core services include: 

  • Welcome & New Beginnings: Welcomes refugees, Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders, and humanitarian parolees, offering housing support, healthcare, case management, and cultural orientation. For more information, please email [email protected].  
  • Employment Navigation & Career Development: Helps equip newcomers to find jobs, build skills, and advance their careers.
  • Financial Empowerment: Empowers individuals through financial coaching, credit counseling, and microenterprise development.
  • Health & Wellness: Promotes holistic physical and mental healthcare for families, adults, and youth. For more information, please email [email protected]
  • Youth & Young Adults: Offers a safe space, language support, and programs for youth development. 
  • Pathway to Citizenship: Provides legal guidance and support for newcomers seeking citizenship and other immigration support. For more information and to schedule a consult, please click here or call (510) 452-8222.
  • Anti-Trafficking: Supports survivors with housing, legal aid, and counseling. Advocates for survivor rights, policy change, and anti-trafficking awareness.
  • New Roots Urban Farm: Provides refugees, immigrants, and other community members with culturally relevant community-based agricultural education, nutrition and healthy cooking workshops, community gardening, emergency food, and more.
  • Digital Inclusion: Bridges the digital divide by providing affordable technology, training, and job readiness support.
How can I support newcomers in my community?

Join our community of welcome! 

Helping newcomers build a solid foundation isn't possible without people like you!  There are many ways to get involved as in individual or with your family, friends, workplace, faith community, educational institution, neighborhood or community group.

How do newcomers contribute to Oakland?

Once they acclimate to their new environment, refugees contribute to their communities in many ways as they build their careers, purchase homes, and gain citizenship. They help enrich our local communities by creating cultural and social diversity. 
Additionally, research shows that refugees contribute more to the U.S. economy than they consume in public benefits and start businesses and higher rates than their native-born counterparts. 

What services does the IRC provide to the wider community?

Legal Services: Newcomers often need immigration and citizenship support to bring family members to the U.S., apply for citizenship, green cards, work authorization, DACA renewals, travel documents, and more. For more information, please email [email protected].  

In Their Words


"Through the warmth of their welcome and the incredible support provided by the IRC, my family and I found our path to a brighter future. They didn't just change our lives; they illuminated our dreams."

Dr. Ahmad Farid Raaid
Welcomed by the IRC in Oakland

Our impact


people in the U.S. received asylum and protection support.

IRC offices across the U.S. provide immediate aid--including food, housing and medical attention—among other support.

Learn about resettlement and asylum


people were assisted to become new U.S. citizens.

The IRC offers high-quality, low-cost immigration legal services and citizenship assistance in cities across the U.S.

Learn about immigration


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

people with training to help them build careers and income.

Learn more