Catholic Charities Refugee and Immigration Services

Watch the following video from Pope Francis about refugees and immigrants. Video Link


Refugee and Immigration Services

Since the airlift of the Vietnamese in 1975, Refugee & Immigration Services (RIS) has provided a safe and hopeful refuge for those forced to flee their homelands.  Originally housed in the Diocese of Jefferson City, RIS became a part of Catholic Charities in 2011.  Over the years, we have welcomed people from countries in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Latin America regardless of their color or creed.  This same welcome has been extended to non-refugee immigrants seeking legal status and family reunification.

Our staff works hard to ensure culturally competent services to our clients, offering refugees initial housing; provision of furniture, clothing, household goods and food; orientation and initial needs assessment; education placement of children in the appropriate school; introduction to government and community service providers; and extensive case management services.  Many families are also provided with a support network of individual volunteers.

Our immigration associates on staff are Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) accredited and offer their services at a much-reduced cost compared to a typical immigration attorney.  Our associates have extensive training in their field and assist clients to complete most immigration applications.

Refugee Resettlement

Refugees are individuals who have fled their countries of origin and who meet the United Nations’ criteria of having a “well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.”

Each year the President of the United States authorizes the admission of a certain number of refugees into the country.  This determination is based on a consultative process between Congress, the President and various federal agencies.  In recent years, the US has accepted between 50,000 to 100,00 refugees per year.  Before admission to the US, each refugee undergoes an extensive interviewing, screening and security clearance process.

Refugees, having suffered great loss, including loss of their homes, livelihoods, possessions and oftentimes families, need assistance starting over in a new country.  Their initial needs are many: food, clothing, shelter, employment, English language training, and orientation to a new community and culture.  Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri is part of the Catholic refugee resettlement network that includes over 100 diocesan offices across the country and in Guam and Puerto Rico. Resettling refugees provides an extraordinary opportunity for countless Americans to take an active part in offering a caring and supportive environment for refugees as they begin new lives. Without volunteers and resources from our community and parishes, Catholic Charities would be unable to accomplish the tremendous task of giving refugees new hope and the opportunity to begin again.

Immigration Services

Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri provides immigration legal services as a way to reunite families and promote self-sufficiency for immigrants through low-fee legal assistance in immigration matters before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service.

Catholic Charities staff are BIA Accredited Representatives and assist U.S. Citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents and immigrants with:

  • Adjustment of status
  • Naturalization and citizenship
  • Legal permanent residency
  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

Our office establishes a new, fully-furnished home for each newly arrived refugee.  The following items are needed to outfit our refugees in their new homes:

Furniture: twin, full, and queen beds; kitchen tables and chairs; sofas; coffee and end tables; dressers; desks

Appliances: table and floor lamps; microwaves; alarm and wall clocks; televisions; vacuum cleaners

Bathroom/Bedroom: Bath and hand towels; washcloths; shampoo and conditioner; soap and body wash; toothbrushes and toothpaste; deodorant; shower curtains and rings; waste bins; razors; facial tissues; toilet paper; linens and blankets/comforters (twin, full, and queen beds); hangers and laundry baskets; laundry detergent; broom and dustpans

Kitchen: Dishsets and cutlery; drinking glasses; pots/pans and baking dishes; serving platters and mixing bowls; dish detergent and sponges; trash cans and bags.

For more information or to request a pick-up of large items, please call: (573) 635-7719 or email:

Volunteering and Internships

Our office depends on our many devoted volunteers to keep things running smoothly.  There are many opportunities for you to become a volunteer with Refugee and Immigration Services:

  • providing additional support and guidance to an individual or family;
  • tutoring English and other school subjects;
  • setting up apartments for newly arriving refugees;
  • assisting with translation;
  • providing office support;
  • organizing community awareness or fundraising events.

We work with volunteers from a wide variety of skills sets and backgrounds. However, availability of volunteer opportunities is contingent upon our current need and your availability. We will do our best to coordinate you with an appropriate family or activity and help support you as you go.

We host a number of student interns each semester through a variety of degree programs including: social work, international studies, public affairs, nursing, agriculture and interdisciplinary studies.  We are always looking for opportunities to expand to other programs.

For more information please contact Grace Wildenhaus: (573) 442-7568 or

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