North America

Photo: Kate Roberts


Reception & Placement Program – USD $15,605,731 • Preferred Communities – USD $1,508,667

U.S. Refugee Resettlement

Reception and Placement – Overview

Since 1946, CWS has helped hundreds of thousands of refugees and entrants begin new lives in the United States. Today, CWS works hand-in-hand with participating denominations, local congregations, and other local community organizations to ensure that refugees have food, clothing and other essentials upon arrival. CWS also provides orientation services including English and job skills training. Through an extensive 21-state network, CWS ensures that refugees are provided with services that will help each family become self-sufficient and contribute to their new community.

In FY 2014, the CWS network has placed over 7,500 refugees in communities across the United States. The CWS resettlement network is divided into two different types of offices. One set of seven offices is administered solely by CWS, and the remaining 26 are jointly monitored with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Episcopal Migration Ministries and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Supporting the work of affiliate offices across the U.S. is a team of over 20 staff located at the CWS Corporate Center in New York City, N.Y. The team in New York coordinates with U.S. Department of State officials to ensure that refugees arrive safely in the U.S. and are assigned an appropriate affiliate office that can provide tailored guidance and support. Staff in New York also serve as a source of training for the affiliate network as well as a monitoring tool to ensure that each office maintains the highest standards of excellence in refugee resettlement.

Preferred Placement Program

The Preferred Communities Program supports the work of local affiliate offices by helping refugees attain lasting self-sufficiency and integrate into new communities. This program provides added resources to affiliate offices in order to offer more intensive case management and the ability to care for refugees with unique needs.

The PC Program is available only in areas that are longstanding frontrunners in the field of refugee resettlement. Able to take advantage of the already successful work of these offices, Preferred Communities provides additional support to really make the difference in the lives of newly arrived refugees. The intensive case management of the PC program often leads to more in-depth job training, allowing refugees to better prepare and transition into the American workforce. When many refugees have only known life in a camp, having even a little extra support upon arrival can truly boost their chances of leading self-sufficient and integrated lives in the United States.

Matching grant program

Families, children, teenagers, grandparents, single-mothers, fathers — no one refugee or refugee family is the same. They come from all around the globe and each have unique needs upon arrival in the United States. One consistent goal, however, for all refugees who enter the United States is to become financially self-sufficient. The Matching Grant program provides CWS offices with additional support in order to help refugees reach their goal of economic self-sufficiency within 120 to 180 days after their arrival.

As part of the Matching Grant Program, CWS offices provide specialized case management, employment training and help with basic costs in those first critical months after a refugee’s arrival in the United States. The goal of the program is to allow refugees to attain financial self-sufficiency without accessing other public assistance. With the MG Program, refugees are able to start on a path that leads to integration into local communities, and allows them to provide for their families and also to begin to give back to the community that has supported them in the United States.

CHEP – Cuban Haitian Entrant Program

Funded by the U.S. Department of State, the Cuban Haitian Entrant Program provides orderly and structured reception, processing and resettlement services to qualified Cubans and Haitians who arrive in the U.S. Based in South Florida, the program also provides services in Louisville, Ky., Portland, Ore., Lancaster, Pa., Houston, Texas, and Syracuse N.Y. During FY 2014, CHEP provided services to 7,342 clients and cultural orientations to 8,360 clients.


In 2013, CWS began a new partnership with the UNHCR Caribbean Unit, based in Washington D.C., to deploy staff members to UNHCR for short-term activities in the Caribbean. Currently, staff are being deployed to Trinidad and Tobago, where they interview asylum seekers as part of the UNHCR refugee status determination process.

The secondment partnership aims to increase access to protection by asylum seekers and recognized refugees on islands where the legal refugee protection framework is either weak or non-existent. In these locations, UNHCR has the mandate to determine the refugee status of individuals seeking asylum, and to refer refugees for resettlement from those locations where no other durable solution is available. Given the limited local integration possibilities in much of the Caribbean, this is often the case and UNHCR expects that nearly all individuals in Trinidad and Tobango, who are determined to be refugees, will ultimately be referred to resettlement in the U.S. or other available countries.

CWS is able to use existing staff from across the network to fulfill the needs of the Caribbean Secondment Unit. In this way, CWS as an organization can bring a histories experience in refugee work to bear for the benefit of vulnerable populations throughout the Caribbean.