What agents, agencies or organizations did you work with during the resettlement process?
Luna: “Before you’re arrive to the States, you work with the UN. So the UNHCR is the main organization there. Once you are on US soil, and you are in the in the city or state that you’re supposed to be in, they hand you over to whichever agency is sponsoring you [which was] in our case… the Catholic Charities agency. They were the ones who, once we made it to the airport… had responsibility for us.”
How did you feel that they handled the process? Is there anything that you wish they could have done differently?
Mrs. J: “Let’s be real. I did not think I’m going to get all that help from them. But… they do a lot. They really did a lot of things [for] us. They receive us from the airport, they took us to the whole apartment that’s fully furnished with a full fridge full of food, and every other day… one of them has to come to us to… help us… until we learn everything. So almost a whole year. They were with us for a whole year until we [received] our green card.”
Luna: “We had no idea… who was going to be responsible for us… [The UN] just drop[s] you off at the airport. So the last time we saw the UN is probably in New York…
“The first place we came into the US was New York… And then we took a flight from JFK to Charlotte. And so… the last time we saw anyone was in JFK, who was the UN rep. After we came to Charlotte, coming… down the terminal, and we saw the person who was responsible for us from Catholic Charities.
“So from then on, they’re responsible for you and [for getting you] settled. They gave us a fully furnished apartment sponsored by the agency… they got donations for furniture and food and things like that. And so they were there for the whole process of applying for paperwork and your social security number and… medication, your immunizations because you… [need to] get a full list of immunizations when you come to the states. So they’re there for you basically, every step of the way.”
…they’re there for you, basically, every step of the way.
Mrs. J: “Registration for the kids, stay connected… to their schools, take them for the first day to their schools – because I did not know where I’m going to go or anything like that. They literally did everything…
“Here, you cannot live in the south without driving. So, one of the most convenient things that they give us [is] free drivers ed… So this is very important. All of us, literally all of us, learn how to drive through this drivers ed.
“It is incredible. It is really incredible. Like they, they even took us to the stores… I remember the agent… [was] two hours with us to tell us, like, don’t buy this rice. This is very expensive… This is the… same thing, it’s just [cheaper]… They were with us in… literally every detail.”
How long was the agency involved with you?
Mrs. J: “Most of the agents… other than Catholic Charities, it’s usually two to three months. But Catholic Charities… [helps us] until we get our green card. Even the green card, if you don’t know how to fill [out] the paper, they have their own lawyer. She can come to you, she can pull up your paper to apply for your green card… after a whole year of being in the United States as asylum or as a refugee. You can apply for a green card to be a permanent resident.”
Luna: “[We had reached] the year mark when we got our green card. So then you become a green card holder, and then you apply for citizenship after five years.”English Language Acquisition →