Frequently Asked Questions

The questions and responses below describe the work we do at the International Institute of New England and provide information on how recent policy changes impact our mission.


+ What is the International Institute of New England and what does it do?

The International Institute of New England is a non-profit organization that provides humanitarian relief, education, skills training, job placement, family reunification and pathways to citizenship for 2,000 immigrants and refugees each year. We work in Boston and Lowell, Massachusetts, and Manchester, New Hampshire.

The Institute is the oldest and second largest resettlement agency in the region and has the largest Central American family reunification program in Greater Boston. More than 500 refugees and immigrants enroll in our education programs annually, and each year we connect hundreds of new Americans to jobs in New England companies.

+ What makes the International Institute of New England different?

The Institute is a leader in the creation of programs and services for new Americans. Our expertise comes from almost 100 years of welcoming immigrants from every region of the world and more than 40 years of resettling refugees in New England. IINE is one of the few immigrant service providers in the region that specializes in receiving and placing refugees in local communities.

With insights from the people and cities we serve, we’ve created skills training and education programming that prepare new Americans for employment opportunities in New England’s unique economy.

Our staff is the first to welcome newly arrived refugees at Logan or Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, we work closely with refugees in their first year in their new communities, and we provide a continuum of services to them during their first five years in the United States.

Building services for refugees has allowed us to become a content leader in human services for new Americans – both refugees and immigrants – at a time when the national debate over immigration is more intense than at any time in recent history.

+ Why should New England welcome refugees and immigrants?

There are compelling humanitarian, civic, and economic reasons for welcoming refugees and immigrants to New England.

Our region’s modest population growth, which is critical to the expansion of our economy, is fueled almost entirely by immigration. Approximately 28% of Boston’s population is foreign-born, and both New Hampshire and Massachusetts are in desperate need of people to work in a broad variety of industries.

The growing diversity of our population is a great strength. New Americans embrace our values, are eager to contribute, and enrich local communities. With more refugees in the world than at any point in recent history, it is the responsibility of the United States, as a world leader, to welcome displaced people to our shores. If America does not lead during this crisis, who will?

We are honored to welcome persecuted people from around the world to New England and to support them as they restart their lives in our communities. Those who work for the Institute, volunteer with us, provide financial support, and serve on our Advisory Councils and Board of Directors often are more enriched by the people we serve than they are by us. That is the privilege and beauty of our work.

+ How does the Institute help refugees and immigrants?

The Institute provides a five-point continuum of care to new Americans that includes:

  • Refugee Resettlement – We receive and place an average of 600 refugees each year in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Our work during a refugee family’s first 90 days in the U.S. involves preparing an apartment for each new arrival, receiving families at local airports, accompanying all family members to initial medical appointments, enrolling members in public benefits and health care plans, assisting families as they enroll their children in public schools, guiding refugees through a cultural orientation program, teaching them enough English to secure employment, and helping adults find good jobs.
  • Case Management – IINE provides intensive support to refugees during their first year in the U.S., and we focus much of our efforts on helping all enrolled clients stabilize economically by preparing adults for employment and career advancement, lifelong financial management, and literacy and language skills. We have a unique emphasis on family reunification, including helping Central American families reunify with their children and assisting refugees as they petition for loved ones to join them in the United States.
  • Literacy and Education – Our staff teaches vocational English to more than 500 new Americans each year, and our Boston site runs a Tier-1, multi-level evening English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program. We also provide support to refugee youth in Lowell and Manchester.
  • Job Placement and Training – The Institute provides job training and placement services to approximately 700 refugees and immigrants each year, placing clients at nearly 150 companies in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
  • Citizenship – We provide programs and services in Massachusetts and New Hampshire that help refugees and immigrants prepare for citizenship.

+ Who does the Institute serve?

We serve Refugees, Aslyees, Victims of Human Trafficking, Cuban and Haitian entrants, Special Interest Visa holders, Central American children and families, and other immigrants in various statuses. Below is a definition of each category and the number of clients served by IINE in Fiscal Year 2016:

  • Refugees – The Institute resettled 623 refugees in Fiscal Year 2016 and provided employment and case management services to another 573 refugees beyond the initial resettlement period. A refugee is someone living outside of his or her country of nationality who is unable or unwilling to return to that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution. The number of refugees admitted to the U.S. each year is determined by the President of the United States. Each refugee arrives in the U.S. with a refugee visa and is eligible to work and receive public benefits. After one year, refugees can adjust to lawful permanent status, and after five years they are eligible for citizenship.
  • Asylees – IINE served 126 asylees in Fiscal Year 2016. An asylee is someone who received the equivalent of refugee status by a court within the U.S. instead of overseas.
  • Special Interest Visa Holders (SIVs) – IINE served 39 Special Interest Visa holders in FY2016. SIVs hold special visas for providing translation and other services to U.S. forces and government officials in Afghanistan and Iraq. They are immediately granted a green card upon arrival.
  • Cuban and Haitian Entrants – IINE served 58 Cuban and Haitian entrants in Fiscal Year 2016. In late 2016, President Obama ended the Cuban entrant program. Haitian entrants are those who enter the U.S. and are granted parole status, meaning they are permitted in the U.S. while they apply for asylum. They are eligible for many refugee services while they are on parole status.
  • Central American Children and Families – IINE reunited 114 Central American families in Greater Boston in FY2016. The program was established by President Obama in late 2014 to assist people fleeing violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. In many cases, parents left these countries years ago, found work in the United States, and sent money home to care for their children, who were often in the custody of grandparents. To participate in this program, the parents must be legally present in the United States. This service is primarily available to children under age 21, but a parent of a qualifying child may be included if the parent is part of the same economic household of the child and is legally married to the other parent residing in the United States.
  • Victims of Human Trafficking – IINE provided services to two Victims of Human Trafficking (VoTs) in FY16. The 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) authorizes the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to certify foreign national survivors of labor and sex trafficking, making them eligible for public benefits to the same extent as refugees. A VoT is forced to work for another person or entity, usually with minimal pay, against their will.
  • Immigrants of Various Statuses – IINE serves a wide variety of immigrants with different legal statuses. Many immigrants participate in our English and job training programs.

+ How long has the Institute been in existence?

The International Institute of New England began in Lowell in 1919, and an office opened in Boston in 1924. A group in Manchester, New Hampshire started resettling refugees in the late 1970s, and in 1994 the three sites consolidated into a formal organization, which today is called the International Institute of New England. IINE’s central office is co-located with its Boston services in downtown Boston.

We are the oldest organization exclusively serving refugees and immigrants in New England. We welcomed Eastern Europeans in the 1920 and 30s, persecuted people fleeing Europe after World War II, displaced persons from the former Soviet bloc and Cuba in the 1950s and 60s, Cambodians and Vietnamese in the 1970s, and Central and South Americans and families from Asia, the Middle East and Africa during the past several decades.

People from all over the world have benefited from our services and graced our lives during the past century. We watch with pride as the people we serve make enormous contributions to civic and community life in New England.

+ What are some of the Institute's most significant accomplishments in the past year?

Some of our major accomplishments include:

  • We resettled 623 refugees in 2016, representing 25% of all refugees resettled in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. We are the second largest refugee resettlement organization in the region.
  • In FY16, we served approximately 500 refugees in our English language programs.
  • For the past three years, our English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program, which is offered in Boston, earned the highest rating – Tier 1 – from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).
  • 88% of the graduates of the Institute’s in-demand intensive vocational training programs were placed in full-time service industry jobs upon completion of the program in 2016, earning an average hourly wage of $15.85, a significant jump from their previous incomes.
  • The Institute provided employment counseling services to 686 refugees and immigrants across all three sites in 2016, 71% of whom received a job placement within six months of starting the program.
  • In 2016, the Institute placed new Americans at 146 companies across Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Our job preparation and placement services were critical to the economic growth of a region with low unemployment and significant labor shortages.
  • We operate the largest program in Greater Boston reuniting Central American children and their families. The work includes helping unaccompanied children reunite with their parents, as well as an Affidavit of Relationship program in which parents petition to bring family members to the United States through the U.S. Refugee Resettlement program. Last year, we brought together 114 families, many of whom had been separated for a year or more.
  • Between October of 2016 and March of 2017, the number of volunteers at IINE offices has tripled to 217 people, providing 13,000 hours of service during this period. In the first part of 2017, more than 1,000 community members participated in our events to learn about our work and to support refugees and immigrants.

+ How is the Institue funded?

65% of the Institute’s funding comes from public sources, and 35% is from private revenue streams, including fundraising. The refugee resettlement program in the United States is considered a “public-private partnership,” and groups like ours are expected to raise funds from individuals, foundations, and corporations to provide comprehensive services to our clients.

+ How do the three sites – Boston, Lowell, and Manchester – interact with one another?

IINE’s central office located in Boston provides the three IINE field offices – Boston, Lowell, and Manchester, NH – with operational and administrative support including financial management, fundraising, contract execution and management, payroll, billing, accounts payable, general accounting, financial reporting, acquisitions requests, human resources management, program assistance and quality control. The structure is designed to allow field office staff to focus on providing high quality programming and services to clients. Staff in parallel site programming interact with each other frequently and attend common training programs.


Impact of the President's Executive Order

+ What did President Trump's Executive Order attempt to do?

President Donald J. Trump’s issued an Executive Order on January 27, 2017 titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” After the order was struck down by a federal court, the President re-issued the order, with some modifications, on March 6, 2017. The order attempted to suspend the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days. The first order placed an indefinite ban on the entry of all Syrians, including Syrian refugees, to the U.S., and suspended the admission of people from seven predominantly Muslim countries, including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days. The second order excluded Iraq from the predominantly Muslim country ban and removed the language placing an indefinite ban on Syrians. Both Executive Orders immediately reduced the number of refugees that the U.S. will admit in fiscal year 2017 (October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017) from 110,000 to 50,000. The reduction in refugees coming to the U.S. is currently in place.

+ What is the status of the Executive Order?

Provisions of both Executive Orders suspending the refugee resettlement program for 120 days and banning visa holders from predominantly Muslim countries were struck down by federal courts. Several provisions of the first order were ruled unconstitutional by Federal District Court Judge James L. Robart, an appointee of George W. Bush. The judge’s ruling was upheld by a three-judge panel of the 9th District Court of Appeals.

Three federal district courts have ruled on the March 6th Executive Order. On March 16, 2017, judges in the federal district courts of Maryland and Hawaii ruled that President Trump’s Executive Order violates the establishment clause of the Constitution because there is evidence that the motivation for the President’s actions was to discriminate against people of the Muslim faith. The Maryland and Hawaii judges issued orders to reinstate the refugee resettlement program and continue the admission of people from the six predominantly Muslim countries. The Hawaii judge’s temporary restraining order was converted to a preliminary injunction on March 29, 2017, which means the suspension of the Executive Order will continue indefinitely.

A federal district court judge in Virginia ruled on March 24, 2017 that the March 6th Executive Order did not violate the establishment clause. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeal, which includes Virginia and Maryland, is expected to hear an appeal by the President’s lawyers in May. It is not clear if the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will be hearing an appeal on the Hawaii case.

Currently, based on the Hawaii court’s ruling, the refugee resettlement program continues its operations. The State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) has lowered the FY17 ceiling for refugees arriving in the U.S. to 50,000, plus an additional 15,000 Special Interest Visa Holders.

The primary impact of President Trump’s Executive Order is a lowering of the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. this year to 50,000. It appears that a total of 15,000 Special Interest Visa Holders – those who served U.S. forces in the Middle East – will be admitted as well. Midway through the fiscal year, nearly 80% of the 50,000 refugees permitted in the U.S. have arrived in the country. Because of the lower refugee admissions ceiling, the International Institute of New England expects to resettle fewer refugees this year and possibly in upcoming years if President Trump continues to limit the program to a cap of 50,000 each year.

+ Has this Executive Order impacted all services provided by the Institute?

No. The Institute is currently serving more than 625 refugees who arrived here in the past year and before, and we continue to receive refugee families each month, though fewer than we planned. Newly arrived refugees are enrolled in our case management and job training/placement programs. In addition, we continue to serve high numbers of other immigrants, including asylees, Cuban and Haitian entrants, victims of human trafficking, and other visa status holders. More than 1,200 clients are currently receiving services at our Boston, Lowell, and Manchester, New Hampshire field offices. They are enrolled in Adult Basic Education classes, participating in skills training programs, receiving job placement assistance, and receiving case management services.

+ Why did President Trump issue this order?

The stated rationale for the Executive Order is to prevent people with terrorist ties from entering the U.S. The order references the September 11th attacks but does not ban the admission of people from Saudi Arabia, the home country of 15 of 19 of the 9/11 terrorists. The order also does not limit migration from Pakistan and Egypt where extremism has produced militants, nor does it restrict migration from Europe, where several terrorist attacks have taken place.

+ If fully implemented, will the Executive Order make the nation safer?

Nearly all security experts say it will not. Most say that a geographic approach to combating terrorism is insufficient because terrorist threats do not originate in any one country. In fact, in recent years, we have learned that most terrorist threats on American soil are homegrown. Experts say the orders are increasing resentment among American Muslims and energizing recruitment efforts by ISIS.

The work we do will remain the same, but the number of newly arrived refugees may, regrettably, decrease. The Executive Order reduces the number of refugees with valid persecution claims admitted to the U.S. from 110,000 to 50,000 this fiscal year. Another potential change is that the executive action directs the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to explore whether state and local governments can have more authority over the admission of refugees to their communities.

+ Will federal direct assistance to refugees be reduced because of this Executive Order?

The Executive Order did not include restrictions on services to refugees, the funding of which is dependent upon Congress. Federal resettlement funds provide a one-time cash grant of $2,075 to organizations like the International Institute of New England to support each newly arrived refugee; $1,125 is allocated directly to client expenses and is intended to cover rent, food, clothing, and transportation during the family’s first 90 days in the U.S. The remaining $925 per client is allocated to the organization to cover the professional services provided by our staff during that time. The International Institute works to raise $1,000 per refugee beyond federal funding from individuals, church groups, corporations and foundations to sustain programming and assist clients directly. Our fundraising efforts have intensified because of the uncertainty of the program, and we appreciate contributions that people and communities are making to IINE. To learn more, please visit


General Refugee Resettlement and IINE Questions

+ How many refugees does the United States resettle each year?

Since 1975, the U.S. has admitted more than 3.3 million refugees, an average of 80,000 per year. From 2012 to 2015, the U.S. admitted 70,000 refugees per year, and in 2016, in response to the global refugee crisis, the U.S. admitted 85,000 refugees. President Obama raised the ceiling to 110,000 in FY17 because he wanted the U.S. to play a leadership role in a humanitarian crisis that has driven the number of refugees to 21.3 million worldwide, the most since the end of World War II.

+ How many refugees does IINE resettle each year and where do they come from?

In the past several years, we have resettled an average of 600 refugees per year. Newly arrived refugees represent about one third of the clients the Institute serves each year. Recently, refugees have come to New England from Bhutan, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar (Burma), Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and Syria.

+ Has the refugee resettlement program been shut down before?

After September 11, 2001, when the nation was attacked, the U.S. refugee admissions program was suspended for less than three months. Since 9/11, the nation has strengthened its security systems and made it more difficult for people to enter the country. There is more surveillance and more information on people entering the U.S. than ever before in our history, and we have not suffered an attack like the one that occurred on 9/11.

+ How are refugees screened now?

Since 9/11, the United States has had the most organized and carefully managed refugee admissions process in the world. After screening by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), refugees seeking resettlement in the U.S. are vetted by the U.S National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI Terrorist Screening Center, and the Departments of State, Defense, and Homeland Security. Syrian refugees are subject to additional background checks. U.S. security agencies have complete control over who is, and who is not, admitted to the country as a refugee, and ensure compliance with the Patriot Act and other U.S. laws restricting admission of anyone associated with terrorism.

+ Have any refugees been implicated in a fatal terrorist attack on U.S. soil?

No person accepted to the U.S. as a refugee, including from Syria, has been implicated in a fatal terrorist attack since the Refugee Resettlement Act of 1980 was enacted, according to an analysis by the Cato Institute.

+ What is the financial impact of the reduction in refugees on the International Institute of New England?

Approximately 12% of our overall revenue to sustain programming has been reduced because of lost federal and state funding related to the President’s Executive Order.

+Please describe the work the Institute does with newly arrived refugees.

In our reception and placement program, our staff dedicates approximately 75 hours of case management time to each refugee. Services include welcoming each refugee family at either Manchester or Logan airport and escorting them to a furnished apartment we have provisioned with home goods, clothing and food. Within days of arrival, our staff helps clients apply for Social Security and other public benefits, arranges medical appointments, enrolls them in a healthcare plan, familiarizes them with public transit, and enrolls refugee children in public schools. The staff works with clients to build a household budget, assesses each adult’s employability, and helps adults to find jobs as quickly as possible. Each client enrolls in English and cultural orientation classes

+ Where do I find information that assures me of the quality of the work of the International Institute of New England?

The Institute is monitored by the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), the Massachusetts Office of Refugees and Immigrants (MORI), the New Hampshire Office of Minority Health and Refugee Affairs (OMHRA), and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI). These agencies provide robust quality control, monitoring case files, providing on-site annual visits, and interviewing clients to ensure we are providing quality services. Copies of our Form 990, Annual Report, and Audited Financial statements are available at

+ How can we help?

The best way to help the International Institute is with a contribution of any size. The Institute is a public-private partnership that relies on community financial support to provide a comprehensive range of services. Despite shifts in federal funding, we need to be ready to receive each refugee family when they arrive in New England. About 65% of our funding comes from public sources, and 35% comes from private donations, which we need now more than ever. Visit to make a contribution to the Institute.