Immigrants and Refugees in Alexandria
The City of Alexandria is home to more than 150,000 people from a rich diversity of backgrounds. The City is committed to providing a wide range of effective and essential safety net services to improve or maintain the well-being, safety and self-sufficiency of all its residents—including the hundreds of refugees and immigrants we welcome into our community every year.
According to New Americans in Alexandria, a 2018 report, immigrants make up 28 percent of the city’s overall population and represent 32.3 percent of the city’s working age population and 30.5 percent of its employed labor force. More than half of the city’s population growth in between 2011 and 2016 is attributed to immigrants. Below are a few more highlights from the report.
Resources, Programs and Services for Immigrants and Refugees
Below are services and programs provided by the City as well as collaborative partners, nonprofits and other organizations working to improve lives in our community.
Safety Net and Financial Assistance Services
The Department of Community and Human Services provides a range of services and programs to assist Alexandria residents, including immigrants and refugees, experiencing needs such as a housing crisis, medical or disability needs, or needing assistance with purchasing sufficient clothing or food for their household. You can apply online for many of the benefits listed below using Common Help. For a complete list of services, visit alexandriava.gov/DCHS.
Refugee Assistance. Financial and medical benefits to refugees.
Rental Assistance. Assistance to eligible, low-income persons facing a housing crisis.
Utility, Heating and Cooling Assistance. Assistance to income-eligible households.
Food, Clothing, Furniture, Prescription and Burial Assistance. Assistance to eligible, low-income residents.
Homeless Services. A range of services for those experiencing homelessness.
Food Assistance. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) assists individuals and families who are unable to purchase sufficient food for themselves.
Healthcare for Children. The Family Access to Medical Insurance Security Plan (FAMIS) Provides health insurance to children under 19 years-old who are uninsured and who are not eligible for Medicaid.
Healthcare for Adults and Children. The Medicaid assistance program that pays medical service providers for medical services rendered to eligible individuals
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Provides eligible families with a monthly cash payment to meet their basic needs.
Auxiliary Grant Program. Income supplement for individuals who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and certain other aged, blind or individuals with disabilities who reside in a licensed assisted living facility or an approved adult foster care home
Food, Clothing, Dental, Prescription Drug, Eyeglasses and Burial Assistance. Services provided by the Office of Community Services.
The City of Alexandria’s Workforce Development Center (WDC) assists individuals and businesses with their employment needs. Offering services including Career Readiness Workshops, individualized case management, assistance with Training and Certifications, and Hiring Events open to the public, the WDC is a Certified One Stop Center for all employment services.
There are multiple programs offered at WDC that can assist with training and certifications. Many of these programs have eligibility requirements. All of these programs have the goal of securing livable-wages so that individuals are self-sufficient through employment. Some example of these programs:
SNAP-ET supports Education and Training goals for individuals receiving food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
VIEW is the Virginia Initiative for Education and Work; this program assists Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients.
WIOA is the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act; This federally funded program supports Adults and Youth through case management and career coaching in order for participants to reach their career goals.
WDC also collaborates with onsite employment partners to provide additional program:
Upwardly Global: Upwardly Global’s mission is to eliminate employment barriers for skilled immigrants and refugees, and integrate this population into the professional U.S. workforce. This partner offers employment services including online courses, an Employment Advisor in your industry of experience and networking opportunities for skilled immigrants
Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) offers employment support including resume assistance, translation services, and pre-employment training for refugees within the first 5 years of resettlement.
Virginia Employment Commission (VEC): Through the VEC and the Virginia Workforce Connection, job seekers can search for jobs, take career assessments, and research local labor market data.
Melwood Jobs assists individuals of differing abilities or those with long term unemployment with career exploration, case management, and job placement and retention services.
Support Groups Include:
Women Immigrant Socio-economic Empowerment (WISE) group meets the last Friday of every month. The goal of this group is to encourage women immigrants through empowering them through the resettlement process. For more information please contact Tempestt Boulware at 703.746.5871 or Lillian Correa at 703.746.5868.
Ethiopian Community Development Council (EDCD) holds monthly support groups for Afghan women. The goal is to introduce women to other newly arrived women, discuss resettlement challenges and offer tips for living in the United States. For more information please contact Emily Bayens at 703.685.0510 ext. 266.
English as a Second Language (ESL)
There are multiple options for English Language Learners in the City of Alexandria. Some options include:
The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia (LCNV) focuses on teaching adults the basic skills of reading, writing, speaking, and understanding English so they can access employment and educational opportunities and more fully and equitably participate in the community.
Alexandria City Public Schools offers an Adult English Learners Program consisting of 6 levels of reading, writing, speaking, and listening in sessions held daily in the morning and evening.
Northern Virginia Community College offers the American Culture & Language Institute (ACLI). ACLI helps students achieve their goals of language proficiency for self-improvement, academic studies, and professional development.
Forum Intensive English Center also offers English classes including 7 intensive levels ranging from basic to college preparation.
Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS)
Students are admitted to ACPS programs without regard to immigration status. Below are a few of the ACPS resources that may be of help to immigrants and refugees. For a full list of programs and services, visit www.acps.k12.va.us.
Family and Community Engagement (FACE) Center. The FACE Center involves families in the educational experience of students. Through free information, resources, workshops and fun activities for students and their families, FACE helps connect families to the academic achievement of their children.
Free and Reduced Lunch Program. Children need healthy meals to learn. ACPS Nutrition is pleased to offer FREE Breakfast and/or Lunch for eligible students, regardless of citizenship status, as part of the federally funded National School Lunch Act and Child Nutrition Act, and administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Virginia Department of Education (VDOE). Learn more about the program and eligibility guidelines.
Anne R. Lipnick Special Education Parent Resource Center. The Anne R. Lipnick Special Education Parent Resource Center (PRC) assists parents to become partners in their child's education. Focusing on the child's needs, we promote training parents to be advocates for their children while establishing cooperative partnerships between families and schools.
Children and Parenting
Immigrating to the U.S. can be a traumatic and difficult experience for both parents and children. In addition, parenting culture in the U.S. can be new and confusing to some immigrants and refugees. Below are resources for parents and children as they adapt to life in the U.S.
Center for Children and Families. Programs and services for children, youth and families.
RAISE. Includes resources for dealing with childhood trauma and information about Alexandria’s Trauma-Informed Care Network.
Health and Wellness
Alexandria Health Department (AHD). AHD offers many essential public health services and programs for Alexandria residents, including immigrants and refugees. Visit alexandriava.gov/health for a complete list of services, including vaccinations, testing and clinics.
Medical Providers for Individuals Without a Primary Care Doctor or Insurance. Access a list of healthcare providers accepting patients who are underinsured or uninsured, including those who serve regardless of citizenship status.
Mental Health Resources. DCHS provides a wide range of mental health services, including 24-Hour Emergency Mental Health Services, Mental Health Outpatient Services, Substance Use Disorder Outpatient Services, Alexandria Residential Treatment Center (ARTC), Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Support Groups, Opioid Treatment Program and Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence and LGBTQ Services. Also, access Multicultural Resources.
Adults With Disabilities and Older Adults
Aging and Adult Services offers a wide range of programs for older adults and adults with disabilities with special emphasis given to those who have a low income. Services range from financial assistance, rent relief, transportation and help finding employment to caregiver resources and food delivery. For a complete list visit alexandriava.gov/Aging.
Learn more about the agencies and programs that help maintain the safety and overall quality of life for all Alexandrians, including immigrants and refugees.
Alexandria Fire Department. Delivers responsive and caring emergency service. Learn about calling 911, cooking fire safety, how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, smoke alarms and how you can prepare for storms and disasters.
Alexandria Police Department. Maintains and enhances a partnership with the community to reduce crime and improve the life of all of Alexandria’s neighborhoods. Listen to officers reading stories for children online with APD Storytime.
Alexandria Sheriff’s Office. Responsible for general public safety as well as operating the adult detention center and courthouse security. Listen to deputies and the Sheriff read stories for children on the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.
Refugee Resettlement Agencies
There are three main Refugee Resettlement Agencies serving the Northern Virginia region. These include Lutheran Social Services, Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services, and the Ethiopian Community Development Center. The purpose of these organizations is to assist refugees with their resettlement into the United States. Services include Reception and Placement in which families are met at the airport upon arrival, provided housing and Welcome Money, and assisted with cultural orientation to living in the United States. Additionally, these agencies provide employment services to improve the self-sufficiency of individuals through employment. More information can be found on each agency’s website:
Below are some community organizations that provide services to immigrants and refugees. We are always adding to this list, so check back for new additions.
Alexandria Housing Development Corporation. AHDC provides reduced-rent apartments for lower-income households in Alexandria. As well, AHDC provides some additional resident services to current residents. Most rental units go for a few hundred dollars less every month than many market-rate counterparts.
Alive! ALIVE! provides basic needs support to residents, regardless of citizenship status, who need food, monetary assistance, housewares and furniture. The organization also offers a certified Child Development Center preschool for children ages 3-5 on a sliding fee scale.
Casa Chirilagua. “Chirilagua” is the name given to the Arlandria neighborhood in Alexandria by its Central American residents. Casa Chirilagua provides ESL and Spanish literacy classes, after school and college preparation programs and more.
Just Neighbors. Just Neighbors is a nonprofit organization that offers expert immigration legal services to at-risk immigrants, refugees and asylees in Virginia. In a small, compassionate and welcoming environment. Just Neighbors attorneys and volunteers focus on the pressing immigration needs of individuals and families, especially those who are most vulnerable, such as securing proper legal status, obtaining work authorization, and advocating on behalf of immigrants in Virginia.
MAP Clinics. A network of weekly health care clinics that provide community-based health care to uninsured or underinsured residents, regardless of citizenship status, using an interprofessional treatment team approach. Visit the MAP Clinic website for a list of clinic locations and hours.
Tenants and Workers United. Programs supporting working class communities, people of color, immigrants, youth and women.
City of Alexandria Immigration Enforcement FAQs
Read the City’s
Immigration Enforcement Frequently Asked Questions.
The City of Alexandria partners with the local refugee resettlement agencies, which offer a wide variety of opportunities to support and help immigrants and refugees, including:
Rent to refugees
Employ a refugee
Advocate for refugees
Sponsor or mentor a refugee or refugee family
Teach English and citizenship classes or help a refugee practice English
Donate food to pantries, household goods
Serve in free medical clinics
Job coach and mentor
For more information on these and other opportunities, visit: