National Resettlement Agencies

Under the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugee and Migration’s Reception and Placement Program (R&P), approved refugees arriving in the United States are placed with one of the private voluntary agencies. These national resettlement agencies are called Volags, and they have signed a cooperative agreement with the State Department. The State of Iowa also operates its own Resettlement program.


National Volags:

·         Church World Service (CWS)

·         Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM)

·         Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC)

·         Hebrew Immigration Aid Society (HIAS)

·         International Rescue Committee (IRC)

·         Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS)

·         U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)

·         U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI)

·         World Relief Corporation (WR)

These national agencies have several hundred local affiliates throughout the US. 

With the assistance of anchor relatives and other family and friends, Volags are responsible for assuring that most services are provided during the first 90 days after a refugee’s arrival. Volags arrange for food, housing, clothing, employment, counseling, medical care and all other necessary services.  Agencies also regularly provide advice on immigration and family reunion procedures that relate to refugees. 

Voluntary agencies work both with refugees who have sponsors and those who do not have sponsors. A sponsor is often the anchor relative, or others who have filed interest forms. The agencies will work with the sponsors, relatives or friends to assist refugees. Refugees without sponsors are referred to as “free cases.” Voluntary agencies also assist these people, with the help of others in the community, such as a church or other group willing to undertake care of the refugee. 

*Photo - Voluntary agencies greet new refugee arival at the airport.