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 (IINE) 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.

IINE 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 International 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 have created skills training and education programming that prepares 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, depends almost entirely on 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. Growing the region’s and the U.S. economy requires the U.S. to admit more immigrants and refugees.

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?

It is a great privilege 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 International 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.

+ Whom does the International 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. The United States grants SIVs a green card upon their 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. The U.S. grants Haitian entrants parole status when they enter the country, meaning they may stay 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 through our Central American Minor Affidavit of Relationship (AOR) and Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) programs. The federal government established the AOR program in 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 International 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 International 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 International 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 International 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 International Institute funded?

The International Institute of New England derives 65% of its funding from public sources, and 35% is from private revenue streams, including fundraising. The refugee resettlement program in the United States is 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 allows 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 a federal court struck down the Order, the President re-issued it 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 attempted to reduce 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.

+ What is the status of the Executive Order?

Federal District Court judges and Appeals Court panels struck down many provisions of the President’s Executive Orders. On June 26, 2017, the Supreme Court narrowed but did not overturn these lower court decisions. The Court said that some people, including refugees, may come to the U.S. if they have a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” The Court said this includes people with close family relationships in the U.S., students admitted to a U.S. university, workers who have accepted jobs here, and lecturers invited to speak to U.S. audiences. As a result of the Supreme Court ruling, the State Department has closed the refugee resettlement program until October 29, 2017, except to admit approved refugees with immediate family members in the United States and Special Interest Visa holders who are individuals who supported U.S. government personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The number of refugees admitted to the U.S. will be about 50,000, less than the number announced by the previous administration. IINE expects to receive and place 400 to 420 refugees this year in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. We had planned on resettling approximately 600 refugees during fiscal year 2017, which ends on September 30. The lower number of refugees will result in a loss of about $270,000 in funding for resettlement and subsequent case management work with refugees during their first year in the United States. This figure represents about five percent of the Institute’s total budget. We offset a large part of this loss with a 4.6 FTE reduction in staffing, most of which we achieved by not filling open positions.

The U.S. government designed the refugee resettlement program as a public-private partnership, financed by both public money and private funds. As public dollars decrease, the need for private funding increases, and we greatly appreciate every contribution made to support our work.

Our current projection for Fiscal Year 2018, which starts on October 1, 2017, is that we resettle 500 refugees in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. We will be staffed and ready to receive refugees when the program restarts at the end of October.

No. We are serving fewer newly arrived refugees than we had planned, but our programming in all areas remains robust. In Fiscal Year 2017, we expect to serve at least at least 1,500 refugees and immigrants, including more than 625 refugees who arrived in the U.S. in the past year.

In addition to refugees, 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 currently are enrolled in Adult Basic Education classes, skills training programs, job placement assistance, and case management services in our Boston, Lowell and Manchester field offices.

All of our programming requires both public and private funding, and we are consistently raising private funds to support our work.

+ 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 11, 2001 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.

+ Will the suspension of the U.S. resettlement program make the nation safer?

No. U.S. security forces continuously look for ways to make the nation safer and have added better screening techniques to the resettlement program in recent years. Refugees undergo multiple security checks before arriving in the U.S., more than any other person attempting to enter the country. Nearly all security experts say the refugee program is not the source of terrorism or threats to the U.S. Most experts say that 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.

No. Congress determines the funding of the U.S. Refugee Assistance Program. 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. The program allocates $1,125 directly to client expenses in order 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 resettlement 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 U.S. closed the refugee resettlement program 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 does the United States screen refugees coming to our country?

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), the U.S National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI Terrorist Screening Center, and the Departments of State, Defense, and Homeland Security vet all refugees seeking resettlement in the U.S. 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.

+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 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.