Job & Family Services Refugee Services
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Ohio Refugee Services

Welcome to Ohio Refugee Services

Refugee Services Logo Populations Served Services and Benefits
Where to Apply Funding
Fact Sheet     State Plan

The Ohio Refugee Services Program operates as part of a national and international effort to help people displaced from their countries to find a new home and a new life.  Individuals and families may be displaced by war; political, religious, or economic turmoil; and other factors beyond their control.  The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) supervises a program of services and benefits designed to help refugees, asylees, Cuban/Haitian entrants, and selected others resettle in Ohio.  ODJFS is supported in this effort by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, county departments of job and family services, resettlement agencies, and medical providers.  The Refugee Services Section is the ODJFS unit responsible for coordination and administration of refugee services in Ohio.


Populations Served

Refugees are people who are unable or unwilling to return to their country of nationality because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.  Many refugees have lived under harsh conditions for extended periods in camps outside their native borders before being accepted by a host country for permanent resettlement.  Refugees entering the U.S. have been given permission to do so by the federal Department of Homeland Security.

Asylees are individuals who arrive in the U.S. on their own and then ask for asylum (official refuge or protection) because of their refugee-like circumstances.  They are eligible for refugee services once asylum is granted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Cuban and Haitian entrants are nationals of those countries residing in the U.S. who have been granted special status similar to refugees.

The Ohio Refugee Services Program also serves victims of trafficking, persons who have been subjected to force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor, as well as certain Amerasians from Vietnam.

Secondary migrants are people who fall into any of the categories listed above and who move to Ohio from their original place of U.S. resettlement.  A large number of Somali Bantu refugees have recently relocated to Franklin County, prompting a community-wide effort to meet their needs.

 Services and Benefits

The goal of the Refugee Services Program is to help refugees and others granted refugee status achieve economic self-sufficiency and social adjustment within the shortest time possible following their arrival in the U.S.  Refugees are eligible for the following assistance:

   Refugee Cash Assistance: Ohio operates a publicly administered cash assistance program for refugees modeled after the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, known in Ohio as Ohio Works First (OWF). Refugees not eligible for TANF/OWF can receive refugee cash assistance for their first 8 months in the U.S.

Refugee Medical Assistance: If not eligible for Medicaid, refugees are eligible for refugee medical assistance for the first eight months after arriving in the U.S. They will receive a monthly card that provides the same medical coverage as provided by the Medicaid program.  After refugee medical assistance is no longer available, refugees may be eligible for health care coverage under Medicaid.

As soon as possible after arrival in Ohio, refugees receive a comprehensive health screening as a follow-up to the exam they received overseas.  The purpose of the screening is to identify for treatment any communicable disease that may threaten public health and other medical conditions that may act as barriers to successful resettlement.  ODJFS contracts with healthcare providers in resettlement counties to perform these screenings and make appropriate referrals for follow-up care. 

Refugee Social Services: For five years after arrival, refugees are eligible for the following services:

  • acculturation   
  • English language training
  • employment training 
  • job placement
  • transportation  
  • child care
  • citizenship classes

Refugees are also eligible for the following services beyond five years:

  • translation & interpreter services
  • referral services
  • citizenship & naturalization services

   Where to Apply

Refugees can apply for medical assistance, cash assistance, and food stamps at their county department of job and family services.


All refugee services provided through the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services are 100% federally funded through the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

The information presented here is an overview.  For details on the Ohio Refugee Services Program, please refer to Ohio Administrative Code Refugee Program Rules, and the Ohio Refugee State Plan.

   More Refugee-Related Links: