Refugee & Immigrant Services

Helping Families. Supporting Communities. Empowering Individuals.

What is the purpose of this service?

The Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant Services funds, manages and monitors contracts designed to:

  • Help newly arriving refugees achieve self-sufficiency in the United States;
  • Provide citizenship education and application services to legal immigrants desiring to become United States citizens; and
  • Provide outreach and interpretation services to low-income and limited English proficient individuals requiring supportive services.

Who can receive these services?

Services for these programs are extended to the following individuals:

  • Refugees;
  • Low-income immigrants;
  • Limited English-proficient individuals.

What services are offered?

Refugee Program

Since 1975 Illinois has resettled more than 145,000 refugees from more than 60 countries. The Refugee Program facilitates relocation and economic self-sufficiency to people who are victims of political and religious persecution that have been granted the legal right to rebuild their lives in the United States. Due to the diverse ethnic characteristics, the Refugee Program designed a unique social service program to provide specialized multi-lingual services.

The Refugee Program procures community-based services which include adjustment counseling, orientation, English as a Second Language, vocational training, job readiness, and job placement. Multi-lingual mental health services are provided for those refugees who experienced severe trauma and require therapy. Of a total of 9 program sites, 6 are in Chicago and 3 are outside Chicago city limits.

The Refugee Program also procures health screening services with local health care providers to ensure that newly-arrived refugees ate provided with complete health screening. The goal of the program is to prevent any public health problems resulting from lack of detection and treatment of communicable diseases.

Immigrant Services

Illinois has been a leader nationwide in meeting the special needs of our foreign born population. Based on the 2010 Census, 1.8 million immigrants resided in our communities.

New Americans Initiative (NAI)

Since 1995, community-based agencies have provided English as a Second Language, civics, and U.S. history instruction, as well as application services to legal immigrants eligible for U.S. citizenship throughout Illinois. Citizenship has been documented to improve income and more successful integration for immigrants, benefiting the society at large.

Immigrant Family Resource Program (IFRP)

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) administers this program which seeks to assure that eligible immigrants in need access the public benefit programs administered by IDHS. Thirty-eight agencies provide outreach and community education in more than 59 languages, and are available for translation and interpretation services helping IDHS to meet the needs of its limited English-proficient Illinois residents.

Illinois Immigrant Policy Project (IIPP)

The Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant services has produced a number of studies, including: Illinois Immigrants: Taxes Paid, Services Used; Citizenship Service Needs; New Immigrants and Refugees in Illinois; Public Aid and Illinois Immigrants; A Profile of 1990-95 Arrivals. Adjunct activities include the Immigrant and Refugee Health Task Force which produced "Building Linguistic and Cultural Competency: A Tool Kit for Managed Care." In FY' 03 IIPP released a series of four reports on the needs of immigrants concerning immigration law, labor, education, health, and human service issues. Recent reports issued in 2014 include Global Illinois, Bilingual Assistance needed for SNAP, Refugee and Managed Care.

How to apply?

Use the DHS Office Locator to locate your local Family Community Resource Center or contact the Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant Services.

DHS Office Locator

DHS Help Line

  • 1-800-843-6154
  • 1-800-447-6404 TTY