The Journey


Wherever they’re coming from, refugee families have been forced to leave their home country because of a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

Invitation to Resettle

Before receiving approval for resettlement in the US, refugees undergo a rigorous screening process. First, refugees must prove that they meet the definition of a refugee as set forth by the UN. Then, each refugee must undergo a background check and a medical examination. The final step to approval is sponsorship. No refugee may be admitted to the US without the support of an agency such as IRIS to guide them through the often difficult first months of resettlement.

Arriving in Connecticut

When they arrive in Connecticut each family is greeted by their IRIS case manager. These case managers are the family’s first point of contact and play an important role in easing the transition into US culture and society.

Place to Call Home

The family is then taken to their apartment, rented by IRIS and furnished with donated furniture and housewares.

A Warm Meal

For their first night in their new home, IRIS provides every refugee family with a comforting, warm and culturally appropriate meal.

Cultural Orientation

Refugees attend a multi-day cultural orientation within their first days in Connecticut to help them acclimate.

Keeping Everyone Healthy

Refugees come to the US with a variety of physical and mental health care needs. The IRIS Health and Wellness team helps clients obtain high-quality medical care through a partnership with Yale New Haven Hospital.

Going to School

Many school-aged refugee children have never entered a classroom before coming to the US. IRIS works to remove barriers by providing intensive in-school and after-school tutoring assistance, as well as a summer learning program.

Finding Work

Refugees are highly motivated and authorized to work immediately upon arrival. Since the IRIS program is designed to foster early self-sufficiency, employment is a crucial milestone in the resettlement process. IRIS works hard to promote refugee clients to area employers and to prepare them for entry-level employment.

Learning English

IRIS is an authorized site for New Haven Adult Ed’s ESOL program so refugees can take advantage of daily English lessons to assist in their transition.

Obtaining Immigration Legal Assistance and Reuniting Families

IRIS’s Immigration Legal Services team assists refugee families navigate the many legal complexities of being a refugee in America. We assist clients with applications for lawful permanent residence status, naturalization, and family reunification.


Though challenges and difficulties remain, with their hard work and support from IRIS, refugee families are now on their way to living safe, productive and self-sustaining lives here in the United States of America.

Employment Services

Our refugees are ready to work to provide for themselves and their families… do you have a job for them?

Hundreds of employers in the Greater New Haven area have successfully hired refugees. Refugees are invited to the US as permanent residents. They have all of the necessary documents and a legal right to work.

Top Ten Reasons to Hire an IRIS Refugee:

1. Take Advantage of immediate placement – we have documented, qualified candidates ready to go to work for you.

2. Find workers with the skills you need – refugees arrive with a wide variety of skills, from factory worker to professional.

3. Increase your productivity – refugees bring an outstanding work ethic.

4. Save money – no need to pay for advertising, simply call us with your work order.

5. Embrace cultural diversity – increase the ethnic and linguistic diversity of your staff by adding workers from around the world.

6. Avoid paper hassles – we will complete your company’s new-hire paperwork and photocopy all necessary documentation.

7. Trust your new hires – refugees routinely pass all criminal background checks and drug/alcohol screening.

8. Get on the same page- translators available, if necessary, for initial training and orientation.

9. Enjoy tax credits – your business may earn tax breaks for employing refugees.

10. Help a new family realize the American dream!

The candidates we hire from IRIS always help their coworkers. They know the value of team work!”

— Housekeeping manager at a major hotel in New Haven

If you would like to receive more information or have any questions, please contact Will Kneerim, Director of Employment & Education, at