Skip to content


Available Funds for Refugees

Refugees are supported in various ways during their resettlement period. The following is a short list of some of the ways refugees are supported to provide a framework to reference.

  • Resettlement Money: The Federal Government provides resettlement money for World Relief to distribute on behalf of the refugee client for the purpose of providing a window of time to find employment and financial stability. During that time expenses are paid from their resettlement money.  World Relief receives $925 to be used on behalf of the client, plus an additional $200 per client that goes into a general pool to be distributed on behalf of refugee clients with the greatest needs.
  • Emergency Assistance: Refugees and asylees also apply for emergency assistance from the government to assist them until they become financially stable. The assistance they may apply for includes but is not limited to: TANF (cash assistance, SNAP (food stamps), Medicaid, SSI, SSDI).
  • Matching Grant Program:  World Relief enrolls some eligible refugee and asylee clients in the Matching Grant Program which allows for up to 6 months of financial assistance and case management.  Refugees who enroll in the Matching Grant program may not also apply for Refugee Cash Assistance or Work First.
  • Travel Loan: 6 months after they arrive in the US, refugees will begin receiving a bill for their travel expenses to the US.  This is called the IOM travel loan. The IOM travel loan department is very cooperative with refugees regarding the time frame of the loan repayment. The money returned to IOM allows other refugees to travel to the US.

Volunteers’ role:

Many volunteers are appropriately concerned about the financial situation that refugees face upon arriving in the country. However, when seeking to financially assist refugees, it is important to assist in a way that encourages reaching self-sufficiency and financial stability.

Some refugees lived in cities, worked jobs, had bank accounts, paid their bills, and set up their own budgets. These refugees may need some help learning what is different here. Other refugees, however, lived in refugee camps for most of their life and have no idea how to manage their money. These refugees will need help with financial literacy and financial training.

Volunteers can assist refugees with finances in the following ways:

  1. Teach how to use EBT card:  The EBT card may have "food stamps" and/or cash (from Refugee Cash Assistance or Work First Programs) loaded to it. Volunteers can help refugees learn how to use, check balance, and re-apply for these programs.
  2. Teach refugees how to set up a bank account: Help newcomers set up a bank account, then teach refugees how to use their account (withdraw or deposit money, write checks, track their expenditures, etc.). Some people may want to learn about online banking.
  3. Teach refugees about the ATM, debit cards and credit cards: Volunteers can show refugees how to access the nearest ATM, how to use a debit and credit card (it is helpful to explain how credit works), and the importance of keeping up with these cards.
  4. Explain bills: Refugee and asylees will eventually receive bills, such as utilities and phone bills. Volunteers can help them identify bills and other mail from junk mail, how to read the bills, how to pay bills, and how to write a check.
  5. Teach refugees how to balance a budget: Volunteers can help refugees begin the budgeting process. This includes helping refugees understand their monthly expenditures and sources of income.
  6. Help refugees and asylees understand US currency: Describe the different values of coins and bills.
  7. Assist with filing taxes.

Helpful Tips:

  • Have an enlarged photocopy of a check (with the bank account numbers blacked out). Use this as a model to show where to fill in information. Volunteers can do the same thing with past bills (photocopy the completed stub before helping someone to mail it in).
  • Go over a budget worksheet several times in the first 6 months, especially if their financial situation changes (getting a job, changing apartments, buying a car, etc.)  See the sample budget worksheet at the bottom of this page.
  • Practice vocabulary for financial English.
  • When a new refugee or asylee hands a bill or document to a volunteer, the volunteer should not assume responsibility. Volunteers can ask newcomers "What questions do you have?" or “What are you going to do?” Let them take time to think about their answer and respond. The goal is not to take over responsibility, but to help newcomers learn the US financial system and manage their own bills and payments. Volunteers should check in with a World Relief staff member with questions or concerns.

Site Designed and Developed by 5by5 - A Change Agency