What is RIF Asylum Support?

RIF is a welcoming entry point for refugees who have recently arrived in New York City, and are seeking asylum. RIF provides these individuals with a road map to the asylum process that includes instructions on how to access legal consultations and survival resources (healthcare, housing, food). In partnership with Brooklyn Grange (the world’s largest rooftop soil farm), RIF offers a paid fellowship for asylum seekers in urban agriculture.

Learn more about our programs!

Why was RIF established?

RIF was was established in 2006 to fill a void: the a lack of support and guidance for asylum seekers when they first arrive. The lack of government funding has created a vacuum of services, which is in turn filled by unscrupulous immigration practitioners who take advantage of asylum seekers’ ignorance and vulnerability. Since the time that we stepped in to address that void, RIF has served over one thousand asylum seekers.

Learn more about why we welcome refugees!

Who is an asylum seeker?

An asylum seeker is a person who enters the U.S with a visa (various types), and applies for legal status upon arriving on the basis of past persecution OR a fear of future persecution. These individuals are often forced to flee their native country rapidly to seek protection, and therefore often arrive unprepared for life in NYC with little to no information on the asylum process.

Why do asylum seekers flee their homelands?

The majority of asylum seekers who seek RIF’s guidance were political activists or journalists who spoke out against human rights violations, and faced incarceration and torture by their own governments/majority groups. Many have been persecuted because of their sexual orientation and/or their work related to LGBT rights.

Where do they come from?

Most have made their way here from Africa, South Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.

How do they find RIF?

Asylum seekers find us through referrals from other agencies in the city such as IRC and Catholic Charities, or through former clients. They are increasingly reaching us via social media and our website.

What do asylum seekers need when they first arrive to the city, and how does RIF address these needs?