Refugee assistance

  • The Minnesota Department of Human Services’ refugee resettlement program coordinates services to help refugees transition to life in the United States. These may include:
    • Resettlement and placement
    • Food, cash and medical assistance
    • Employment services
    • Social services.
  • Refugees are people who fled their country of origin and cannot return because of a well-founded fear of persecution. Millions of refugees are in camps today under the protection of the United Nations. When there are no other options, the U.S. and several other Western nations provide refugees an opportunity for permanent resettlement. Most refugees who have resettled over the last decade have been from Africa, East Asia, and Near East and South Asia.

    Services in the first three months

    Local partners of national voluntary resettlement agencies are known as “VOLAGS,” a shortened version of “voluntary agencies.” VOLAGS specialize in providing initial resettlement services to refugees during their first three months in the U. S. This includes working with relatives to be sure that refugees have food, shelter, medical screening and access to social services.

    Cash and Medical Assistance

    Most refugees who resettle in Minnesota are members of families with minor children who qualify for the same cash (Minnesota Family Investment Program) and health care programs available to state residents who have low incomes. Contact your local county human service agencies (PDF) to apply.

    Refugees who do not qualify for one or both of those programs can apply for Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) and Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA). These programs are available for the first eight months after a refugee arrives in the country. To apply, contact:
    • The local county human service agency
    • A VOLAG, or voluntary resettlement agency, for refugees in the Twin Cities metro area and Olmstead County.

    Employment and social services

    Culturally appropriate and bilingual employment services are available community organizations. Services include:
    • Orientation to work in the U.S.
    • Job-seeking skills
    • Job development
    • On-the-job training
    • Job placement
    • Follow up to keep jobs.

    Other services also may be available to refugees who have difficulty adjusting to life in the U.S. These services include:
    • Referrals to community services and information on home management
    • Parenting skills
    • Education
    • Immigration and naturalization
    • Transportation and interpreter help.

    Social services are available to refugees during their first five years in the U.S. except for some programs depending on how they are funded. Priority for services is given to refugees in their first year in the U.S.


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