The mission of Refugee and Immigration Services, an agency of Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri (CCCNMO), is twofold:
Our main office in Columbia serves as the headquarters for the refugee resettlement services we provide. Here we welcome and resettle refugees from war-torn countries all over the world. Although the majority of our clients resettle here in Columbia, we can provide resettlement services to refugees all over Missouri except for the Kansas City and St. Louis areas.
Since the airlift of the Vietnamese in 1975, RIS has provided a safe and hopeful refuge for those forced to flee their homelands. Through our culturally competent services, we work to help refugees resettle comfortably into a new life in Missouri. These services include offering initial housing; supplying furniture, household goods and food; assessing initial needs and providing cultural orientation; placing children in appropriate schools or daycare centers; addressing health issues; providing referrals to government and community service providers; and offering extensive case management. Funding for these services comes from individual donations and from grants from Missouri federal funds and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Our Jefferson City office provides immigration processing and assistance to immigrants from all countries. We believe that comprehensive immigration processing assistance should not be limited to individuals who can afford the high costs of an immigration attorney, which are not feasible to a majority of immigrants working minimum wage jobs. For many immigrants, the entire process, from the initial petition to acquisition of citizenship, can take as long as 15 to 20 years. We offer our services throughout the process at about one-tenth the cost of a private attorney. We have three Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) Accredited Representatives who offer assistance with 28 different legal immigration applications and with USCIS paperwork and processes that allow immigrants to legally work and live within the U.S. The immigration component of RIS is affiliated with the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), which is the largest network of charitable legal immigration agencies in the U.S.
Currently, we are serving approximately 525 refugees in Mid-Missouri. Over the years we have welcomed people from countries in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America, regardless of their color or creed. We also extend this welcome to non-refugee immigrants seeking legal status and family reunification. Mid-Missouri has a strong community of volunteers and refugees to support and welcome those starting their new lives in the United States.