Refugee Resettlement FAQ

“The Lord upholds the cause of the orphan, the widow and loves/befriends the stranger, providing him with food and clothing. You too must love/befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” –  Deuteronomy

  • What is a refugee?
    A refugee is someone who has fled from his or her home country and cannot return because he or she has a well-founded fear of persecution based on religion, race, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. The first step for most refugees is to register with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the country to which s/he has fled. Refugees undergo 18-24 months of screening before being allowed to enter the U.S.
  • Who do we resettle?
    JFS is assigned refugee resettlement clients by the U.S. State Department and HIAS (formerly the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society).  In recent years, our resettlement clients have primarily come from Bhutan, Burma, East Africa, Iraq, Iran and the former Soviet Union. JFS has been assigned just a few refugees from the Syrian conflict.
  • What services does JFS provide to refugees?
    We resettle refugees at arrival and also offer employment services, integration services, information & assistance, language classes, citizenship classes, social services and volunteer support.
  • Who provides refugee resettlement in King County?
    In addition to JFS, World Relief Seattle, International Rescue Committee in Seattle, Lutheran Community Services Northwest and Episcopal Migration Ministries.
  • When did JFS begin resettling refugees?
    In 1892. JFS was founded to help immigrants and refugees with basic needs and acculturation.
  • What is the refugee screening process?
    Refugees apply for resettlement at American embassies or through the United Nations. If they pass that first hurdle, they are screened by outposts of the Department of State all over the world. They undergo investigations of their biography and identity; FBI biometric checks of their fingerprints and photographs; in-person interviews by Department of Homeland Security officers; medical screenings as well as investigations by the National Counter-Terrorism Center and by American and international intelligence agencies. Read more about screening.
  • Why does JFS continue to resettle refugees?
    Jewish history and values guide our work. We are obligated to love/befriend the stranger because we were once strangers. We understand from devastating, first-hand experience the tragedy that occurs when citizens and nations turn a deaf ear and blind eye to those who are fleeing persecution, war and terror.

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