Refugee Resettlement


The Refugee Services program seeks to integrate refugees into American society economically and socially, while helping them maintain cultural heritage.

Who is a refugee?

Refugees are people who are unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin 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. Refugees entering the United States have been given permission to do so by the Federal Immigration and Nationalization Service.

Refugee Resettlement in Summit County

Summit County is one of five counties receiving funding for Refugee Resettlement social services. While public assistance for cash and medical services is administered through the Summit County Department of Job and Family Services, social services are provided through a purchased service agreement with a community service provider.

Refugee Cash Assistance

Ohio operates a publicly administered cash-assistance program for refugees in the state. Refugees not eligible for TANF/OWF can receive refugee cash assistance for their first eight months in the U.S. Some refugees with minor children will be eligible for up to seven years while pursuing U.S. citizenship.

Refugee Medical Assistance

The Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA) program offers health coverage to refugees within the first eight months of their entry into the U.S. Those found eligible will have access to the entire Medicaid benefit package. To qualify, a refugee must

  • be a new arrival who has lived in the U.S. less than eight months, and
  • have income up to 100% of the Federal Poverty Level, and
  • not be eligible for Medicaid

When applying for RMA, applicants must provide proof of income, pregnancy, citizenship, and other health insurance (if applicable). A face-to-face interview is necessary.  

Once refugee medical assistance is no longer available, refugees receiving SSI income may be eligible for health care coverage under Medicaid for seven years while pursuing U.S. citizenship.

Other Assistance

Refugees may also receive assistance from a resettlement agency such as the International Institute in Akron that will help them find housing and employment, arrange for initial health screenings, and provide them with a financial incentive to not receive benefits from the Ohio Works First (OWF) program. If necessary, the resettlement agency will help refugees apply for public assistance programs.

Application Process

In Summit County, the Request for Cash, Food, and Medical Assistance application is used as the application for Refugee Social Service.

Applicants can submit the JFS 07200 Request for Cash, Food, and Medical Assistance online, fax it to 1.866.351.8292, mail it to 1180 S. Main Street, Suite 102, Akron, OH 44301-1256, or bring it to the agency. A case manager will be assigned and the following documentation must be provided for all household members:

  • I-94
  • Social Security numbers
  • Residency/shelter costs
  • Citizenship or alien status forms