Refugee resettlement programs and services assist refugees admitted through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. As a cooperative agency for resettlement, and an independent affiliate of LIRS, we operate under the policies, procedures, rules, and regulations of the federal U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.

We are responsible for the following activities:

  • Pre-arrival arrangements
  • Welcome at the airport and transportation to Utica
  • Initial orientation

Program Highlights

  • Shape Created with Sketch. Since 1981, we have resettled 16,500+ people
  • Shape Created with Sketch. Collectively, staff have over 60+ years of resettlement experience
  • Shape Created with Sketch. 90 days case management
  • Shape Created with Sketch. Primary care referral as required
  • Shape Created with Sketch. School enrollment as required
  • Shape Created with Sketch. Cultural orientation

Key Contact Information

Cos Portrait

Cos Mit

A dream of travel, photography, and storytelling.

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Mukti Portrait

Mukti Rijal

Thankful for a sense of welcome, a 
former refugee pays It forward.

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Story Trinh Truong

Trinh Truong

Seizing opportunity in order to reach success.

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Paw Portrait

Pawsansoe Karen Bree

A dream of education and giving back.

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Story Thein Kyaw

Thein Kyaw

Becoming a successful professional through continuous effort.

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Nezir Portrait

Nezir Jasarevic

A strong pillar in the Bosnian community of Utica.

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Enock Portrait

Enock Makoma

Valuing education and pursing civil engineering.

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  • As defined by Article 1 of the 1951 Refugee Convention: “a person owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.” This definition is also in U.S. law under section 101(a)(42) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

  • In the last 10 to 15 years, the largest group of refugees resettled in the United States have come from Burma (also known as Myanmar). In Utica, the Karen ethnic group from Burma, as well as other groups from Burma, are the largest number of refugees we have welcomed. We have also welcomed people from Nepal, Ukraine, DRC Congo, Sudan, Iraq, and several other countries. Visit our Populations page or view our Arrivals sheet for a full historical picture. 

  • Effective January 2019, a total of $1,175.00 is allocated per each refugee in a case for their client fund. No less than $950 must be spent on behalf of the refugee with the additional funds made available for flex spending or to provide up to $200 of a one-time cash disbursement. In Utica, this means that up to $1,1750.00 of federal money is spent locally on a refugee's first month’s rent, security deposit, furniture, clothing, household goods, and other items. The cost of a refugee's airfare is actually a loan that they must begin to repay after 6 months.

  • Refugees are provided with referrals to health professionals and social services, assistance with registering children for school, and orientation to their local community and American norms, laws, and culture.

  • Refugees undergo medical screening and treatment before they are granted permission to resettle in the United States. Upon arrival, refugees receive further health screening and receive appropriate vaccinations. The Department of Homeland Security conducts in-depth checks of each refugee prior to being admitted into the United States.

  • Each newly arriving refugee learns how to interact with the police and public safety services during cultural orientation, and practices traffic safety during our on-site training course. The Center also offers training for communicating effectively with public safety officers.

  • Refugees are eligible for federally reimbursed public assistance for the first eight months after arrival in the United States under the Refugee Cash Assistance Program. Refugees also qualify for refugee medical assistance, which pays the costs for many initial health services.

  • Refugees pay all taxes, including property taxes. As soon as refugees find employment, taxes are deducted from their paychecks.

  • The Center’s employment department provides job counseling within a month of arrival, and refugees generally begin to work within three months of arrival.

    Refugees are placed in entry-level positions as they begin to work in the United States. Because many have limited English skills, they usually start with manual labor, such as factory work, washing dishes, or hotel housekeeping.

  • Yes. We are monitored by the U.S. Department of State, our national affiliate Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS), and by New York State. Additionally, we receive visits and monitoring based on specific grants we have received.

  • Cultural orientation is provided to all newly arrived refugees. Information sessions include specific activities to help newcomers develop skills and knowledge about the U.S. and the Utica community. Topics include, but are not limited to:

    • Role of the resettlement agency
    • Refugee status
    • English
    • Public assistance
    • U.S. laws
    • Your new community
    • Employment
    • Health
    • Budgeting and personal finance
    • Housing
    • Hygiene
    • Safety
    • Cultural adjustment
    • Education
    • Transportation
  • Yes, The Center assists secondary migrants. Secondary migrants are eligible for employment services, English language classes, immigration and citizenship services, and other community programs.

  • We are always in need of volunteers to assist our refugee resettlement department. If you are interested in volunteering, check out recent opportunities!

  • Don’t worry! We work with local landlords to secure housing prior to refugees’ arrivals. Please contact us for more information.

  • We are currently in need of landlords willing to work with our program. We have an immediate need for 2-bedroom apartments. Please contact our Director of Resettlement, Dzevad Racic, at 315.738.1083 ext. 118.

    Resources for landlords

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