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What We Do

Refugee and Immigrant Services (RIS)

Since 1941, when the United States entered World War II, Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSSNCA) has assisted refugees fleeing their countries to escape persecution, war or violence. Since 1999, we have welcomed more than 15,000 refugees.   

Our robust Refugee and Immigrant Services (RIS) program paves the pathway in the Greater Washington D.C. area for resettling families and individuals with legal, financial, employment, education, and housing support.

From the welcome, our Good Neighbor and Champions program sets up homes with housewarming essentials from groceries to furniture. Our TEA Club (Training for Employment and Adjustment) brings together women in bi-annual cohorts to break down barriers to the workforce and new culture. Youth mentoring in Maryland and Virginia ensure students feel empowered and supported to reach their greatest potential.

Our Employment Services team partners with local employers and volunteers to develop resumes, practice interviews, provide vocational training, and place skills-matched jobs.

In 2019, LSSNCA provided workforce development services to nearly 400 adults, and 85% successfully obtained employment.

Our Employment Services are available to individuals with the following classifications within five (5) years of arrival or status determination, and with Maryland or Virginia residency:

  • Refugees 
  • Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders and persons with APA status 
  • Asylees 
  • Cuban/Haitian Entrants 
  • Victims of Trafficking  
  • Amerasians

Citizenship and Immigration

LSSNCA also offers Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) including immigration legal assistance to individuals and families. Our legal services are provided by multi-lingual, experienced staff who are accredited by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Legal Access Programs (OLAP).

Services Include:

  • Consultation 
  • Citizenship 
  • Counseling 
  • Family reunification 
  • USCIS forms preparation and completion 
  • TPS application 
  • Liaison between clients and USCIS offices

Our legal services are open to all individuals seeking legal assistance with USCIS forms and applications. Individuals we cannot serve are referred to other service providers and resources in the area. Client fees vary depending on the extent of services needed and are separate from those established by USCIS.


The Safe Release Program helps unaccompanied children (under 18 years old) who are seeking safety and refuge at our borders reunify with non-parent sponsors (i.e., family members, family friends) in the United States. Sponsors complete background checks through the program, which allows for the release of the children from federal custody. This program allows children to live safely in the United States in a family setting while pursuing immigration relief.

Uplifting Voices

  • Wahidullah, Afghanistan
    Wahidullah, Afghanistan

    Wahidullah, a civil engineer by profession and father of four children, arrived in the United States on a Special Immigration Visa (SIV) in 2021. His wife, Mina, is a medical doctor was also luckily evacuated with the family following the fall of Kabul.

    Dr. Mina “knew that [her] family [would] be exposed to various stress factors, which may affect their mental health and well-being during their migration journey.” She “was very concerned. We already had enough of the exposure living in challenging and life-threatening conditions in Afghanistan. Separation from family members and the support networks was never easy. We knew that other challenges such as unemployment, resettlement difficulties, cultural adjustment, challenges with obtaining entitlements, changing policies in the host countries and social isolation [would] also add to our problems.”

    LSSNCA was able to make their journey a bit smoother and easier. In addition to providing immediate health services, clothing and home essentials, and after providing the initial three months of Reception and Placement (R&P) support, “the next challenge,” Wahidullah noted was “finding a suitable job and paying the monthly bills.” He “received tremendous support from the employment team. My employment specialist provided me and my spouse with all the tools needed to find a job.” His employment specialist also suggested looking into engineering training, and Wahidullah applied for and completed a certificate in concrete with financial assistance from LSSNCA. He was then able to apply for and secure a job with the Engineering Consulting Service (ECS) as a quality control inspector. “Pursuing the certification was a turning point to my employment in the U.S.”