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The IRC in San Jose, CA

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 San Jose 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, Eritrea, and other countries in crisis. They are seeking safety and the chance to move their lives forward.

Why are refugees arriving in San Jose?

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 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.

Learn more about how refugee resettlement works.

How does the IRC help refugees in San Jose?

Our programs are designed to ensure refugees thrive in America--whether ensuring children are enrolled in school, adults become self-reliant through employment or starting businesses, or families receive acute medical care they need to recover from trauma or illness. The IRC helps those in need to rebuild their lives and regain control of their future in their new home community.

Refugees are greeted and welcomed at the airport by IRC case workers and volunteers to ensure their transition is as comfortable as possible. The IRC also makes sure newly arrived refugees receive:

  • A furnished home
  • Help with rent
  • Health care
  • Nutritious, affordable food
  • English language classes
  • Help building job, computer, and financial literacy skills
  • Education for their children
  • Social services and community support
  • Legal services towards residency and citizenship

Our programs in San Jose: 

  • Resettlement is with clients from touchdown at the airport. Within the initial three month span, the team helps refugees with housing, employment, benefits, health insurance, enrollment in English classes, cultural orientation, and referrals to internal and external support.
  • Employment assists clients in finding their very first jobs in the United States. This program offers basic job training, assistance with resumes and interviews, vocational scholarships, and weekly ESL classes.
  • Immigration not only serves our refugee and asylee clients, but also any immigrant in need of assistance. The department provides assistance in applying for Green Cards, Citizenship/Naturalization, travel documents, employment authorization, visa applications, petitioning for family reunification, CAM/AOR, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). 
  • Anti-trafficking strives to provide timely, high-quality, comprehensive services to survivors of human trafficking as well as raise awareness and educate the public through collaboration and coordination with law enforcement and other community organizations.

What immigration services does the IRC provide to the wider community?

The IRC's Immigration Program can help you petition to bring family members to the U.S., apply for citizenship, green cards, work authorization, travel documents, and more. In addition, we partner with local service providers, libraries, and schools to conduct free programming across the region. The IRC is recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice, Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and our immigration and citizenship services are available to any immigrant population in Northern California.

Have more questions or want to make an appointment with our immigration staff? Visit the Immigration Program Page, send an email or call (408) 277-0255 extensions 203 or 208. 

How can I help refugees in San Jose?

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

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

Volunteer Process and Opportunities: Read the steps you need to go through to become an IRC volunteer and see our current list of volunteer opportunities here.

Internship Opportunities: See our current list of internship opportunities here.

New or Gently Used Items Needed for Refugees: We’re collecting items that help newly-arrived refugees start out on the right foot. See how you can help.

Spread the Word: Consider hosting your own fundraising campaign. Stay connected via our newsletter, follow us on Facebook, and ask others to do the same!

Other Ways to Get Involved: Employ refugees or connect us to affordable housing options.

What do refugees contribute to San Jose?

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


Welcome from our director

The IRC respects the intense journey of a refugee and strives to empower each new arrival to make this new life successful and fulfilling. We succeed in assisting refugees through strong support of our local communities. Refugee families benefit greatly from volunteers, advocates and donors. I urge you to become active in our efforts to assist refugees to establish safe and secure lives here in Northern California.

Karen FergusonKaren Ferguson is director of the IRC's Northern California offices.

Our impact

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


refugees and special immigrant visa recipients resettle in the U.S.

Learn how refugees are selected and securely vetted to come to the U.S.

How resettlement works

refugees, asylees and other immigrants with supportive programs.

The United States has a long tradition of offering refuge to those fleeing persecution and war.

See where we work in the U.S.

refugee-owned small businesses get off the ground.

Learn why refugees are good for the economy.

Watch our video

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