Refugee Assistance Programs

Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota (LSS-SD) resettles about 500 refugees a year in South Dakota, a group joined by about 300 secondary migrants. The diverse group of refugees includes Karen and Karenni from Burma, Bhutanese, Somalis, Eritreans, Congolese, Darfuris, Afghanis, and Iraqis, including those Afghanis and Iraqis coming on Special Immigrant Visas.
Refugee Assistance Programs in Aberdeen, South Dakota

How Do Lutheran Social Services Assistance Programs Help Refugees?

At the request of the state, Lutheran Social Services (LSS) assumed oversight of refugee resettlement in South Dakota in 2000. The state of South Dakota continues to oversee refugee medical assistance programs, but LSS has taken the lead in oversight of cash assistance and services. LSS operates resettlement offices in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Huron, South Dakota; the program is called the Center for New Americans. The goals are self-sufficiency and cultural adjustment.

Core services include:

  • Orientation
  • Case management
  • Employment services
  • English classes
  • Citizenship classes
  • Immigration services

LSS provides assistance with initial housing and basic needs items. Through federal funding, refugees are eligible for up to 8 months of cash assistance. To receive this money, employable adults must cooperate with an employment program and case manager, attend at least 6 hours a week of English language training, and attend 36 hours of community orientation. LSS case management and employment services are available to newcomers for up to 5 years. All refugees are legally qualified for employment upon arrival. Employment services assist employable adults in finding their first job as well as job upgrades.

English language training is available 4 days and 2 evenings a week. Classes focus on oral and written English skills. LSS immigration attorneys assist refugees who are pursuing permanent residency or U.S. citizenship.

What is Secondary Migration?

A secondary refugee or secondary migrant is defined as a person who was resettled as a refugee in another state and has moved within the United States. Secondary migrants may choose to move to South Dakota for many reasons. Some may have family members here. Others may be attracted by employment opportunities or because of the high quality of life found here.

Secondary migrants are eligible for services from LSS if they have been in the country for less than 5 years. LSS would only become aware of a secondary migrant if they sought services and were within the 5-year timeframe. In 2014, LSS provided services for 208 secondary migrants.

If you have questions about what services are available locally, contact Dan Krause at 605-229-5140 or email him at:

For refugee resettlement questions in South Dakota, please contact Tim Jurgens, Director of LSS Center for New Americans and State Refugee Coordinator, or 1-866-242-2447.

Next Steps

Visit LSS’s website to learn more about their refugee assistance programs and Center for New Americans.

For more information about refugee resettlement in the United States, visit:
U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement

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