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Immigration and Refugee Services of America: Role at Fort Dix

May 5, 1999
Contact: Melissa Wyers
Gabrielle Bushman
Immigration and Refugee Services of America has been named the joint voluntary agency (JVA) representative at Fort Dix to help Kosovo Albanian refugees as they enter the United States. As the JVA IRSA will work with other national refugee resettlement agencies to ensure the refugee resettlement process will run smoothly. IRSA is the nation's oldest nongovernmental, non-sectarian refugee organization.

At Fort Dix, IRSA will have three primary responsibilities.

Medical Examinations

IRSA will work with the U.S. Public Health Service in coordination with the U.S. military to ensure that all refugees receive medical examinations as required for all refugee admissions.

Security Clearance

IRSA will forward the names of the refugees to the State Department for a background name check, according to refugee admission policy. IRSA has been informed that this process has been expedited and is expected to take 48 hours.

Refugee Sponsorship

IRSA will collect biographical data for each case. This information includes what languages the refugee speaks, occupational skills and any special needs. This information is forwarded to the Refugee Data Center, a clearinghouse all refugees to the U.S. go through. At this point each refugee case will be referred to one of ten voluntary agencies who are under contract with the State Department. Once a case is assigned to a voluntary agency that agency will refer the case to one of their partner agencies across the nation.

Refugees are not assigned to a volunteer host family. Individuals wishing to be of assistance to Kosovar Albanian refugees can contact 800-727-4420 for referral to a local agency who is working to resettle refugees.

IRSA Escorts First Refugees from Kosovo to U.S.

Immigration and Refugee Services of America Executive Director Roger Winter today escorted the first planeload of 400 ethnic Albanian Kosovar refugees as they flew from Macedonia to the United States.

"I am pleased that the U.S. government is expediting the process for getting refugees out of Macedonia and into the United States."

IRSA is also responsible for processing the Kosovar Albanians once they have arrived at Fort Dix. This processing includes overseeing medical checks, background name checks and resettling the refugees in communities around the U.S.

Mr. Winter met up with the planeload of refugees as they departed from Macedonia's capital Skopje. He had been in Macedonia to conduct site visits to refugee camps and meet with government officials.

IRSA is the parent organization of the US Committee for Refugees (USCR). Immigration and Refugee Services of America (IRSA) is acting as the Joint Voluntary Agency (JVA) in Ft. Dix, New Jersey where thousands of Kosovar refugees will be administratively processed prior to being settled into communities throughout the United States. The members of IRSA's National Network will be among the organizations helping these refugees begin their lives in American communities.