Refugee Employment Services

Refugee Employment Services are funded by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement, and are administered in the state by the Office for Refugees and Immigrants. Eligible sub-populations include: refugees; asylees; Cuban/Haitian entrants; certain Amerasians; certified victims of trafficking; and Afghan and Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa recipients. Refugee Employment Services assist employable refugees to obtain a first job as early as possible after arrival in the U.S. and, once employed, to move from a first job to higher level jobs that will bring the refugee family closer to economic self-sufficiency. Refugees are eligible to receive Refugee Employment Services for up to 60 months after arrival in the U.S., or until they reach 450% of the Federal Poverty Level (whichever is reached first). The following core service components are currently offered under the umbrella of Refugee Employment Services:

Comprehensive Refugee Employment Services (CRES)

CRES encompasses a wide range of job services to refugees, along with supportive English language training. Services include:

  • teaching skills important to get, retain and upgrade a job;
  • job development;
  • job placement;
  • post-employment follow-up with client and employer; and
  • English Literacy instruction for refugees who are non-literate or have low literacy skills.

Targeted Assistance Grant (TAG/F)

The Targeted Assistance Grant/Formula (TAG/F) program offers employment services to refugees residing in Suffolk and Hampden Counties. The purpose of the Targeted Assistance Program is to provide, through a process of local planning and implementation, direct services intended to result in the economic self-sufficiency and reduced welfare dependency through the attainment of employment in less than one year of TAG/F services. In addition to basic job readiness and job placement services, and employment-oriented English language instruction as needed, TAG/F provides a variety of vocational skills training and on-the-job training options with Vocational English Language Training (VELT).

For ORR TAG/F Regulations, go to:

Additionally, the following specialized employment services are available to eligible refugees until they become naturalized U.S. citizens or reach 450% of the Federal Poverty Level (whichever is reached first).

A Cuban/Haitian Initiative for Entry into Viable Employment (ACHIEVE)

ACHIEVE is a three-year program funded by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement under the funding announcement for "Discretionary Funds to States for Service Programs for Cuban/Haitian Refugees and Entrants."

The ACHIEVE program provides a comprehensive and integrated set of specialized intensive case management, pre- and post-employment services, and employment retention and supportive services to eligible Cuban and Haitian refugees and entrants living in the Greater Boston area. In the area of specialized intensive case management, the ACHIEVE program provides the initial assessment, referrals to other services and legal assistance to help individuals remove initial barriers to employment. In the area of supportive services, ACHIEVE aims to maximize the stability and well-being of clients and their families in other to achieve self-sufficiency. Services provided strategically address the most common key barriers affecting the employment of Cuban and Haitian refugees and entrants. In the area of employment, ACHIEVE provides intensive pre and post-employment services, employment-oriented English Language training as needed, and access to re/certification and vocational skills training opportunities.

For ORR Cuban/Haitian Regulations, go to:

Achieving Self-Sufficiency in a Short Time (ASSIST)

ASSIST is a five-year program funded by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement under the Targeted Assistance Discretionary Grant Program. The ASSIST program targets the specialized employment needs of certain members of large refugee families whose barriers to employment and special employment-related needs may not be adequately addressed in other employment programs. This includes women with young children, older refugees (who are not yet eligible for Social Security and face age-related barriers to employment), youth, and the disabled.

The focus of the ASSIST program is to help larger refugee families increase their financial stability and take positive steps in achieving durable self-sufficiency by means of the employment of all possible family members. Eligible refugees enrolled in ASSIST receive integrated employment services that concurrently address employment, language, and literacy needs during the pre and/or post-employment phases. Pre-employment services address barriers to employment and aim to place clients into entry-level jobs that result in economic self-sufficiency. Once employed, clients are supported with post-employment services that provide additional on-going support for job retention, as well as job upgrade(s) which assist in the client's achievement of financial stability and durable self-sufficiency.

Massachusetts Refugee Enterprise Achievement Program (MassREAP)

MassREAP provides intensive training, support services, and ongoing technical assistance to refugees who wish to start a new business or need help to sustain or expand an existing business in the Greater Boston, Greater Worcester and Greater Springfield areas of Massachusetts. MassREAP has been designed to tap the entrepreneurial experience and drive found among the state's refugee populations to create new businesses and strengthen existing refugee-owned businesses in the state. Microenterprise development offers an alternative income-producing strategy for refugees who are unemployed or under-employed/in low wage jobs by helping them to develop either small-scale, home-based businesses or traditional, non-home-based business ventures. In addition to these start-ups, MassREAP assists in the stabilization or expansion of existing refugee enterprises, by providing technical assistance to new and current business owners and by facilitating partnerships with lending institutions to help participants secure loans (ranging from the micro level up to a maximum of $15,000 or more, depending on the lender).

This information is provided by the Office for Refugees and Immigrants.