Tennessee Office for Refugees


The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) defines a refugee as a person who flees his or her country and is unwilling or unable to return due to a well-founded fear. This fear is based on persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or for political opinion. Though the United States has a long history of providing asylum for displaced persons, the refugee program officially began with the Refugee Act of 1980, which provided the legal framework for the United States’ admissions program and set federal standards for resettlement services. Refugees account for the majority of those resettled in Tennessee and in the United States who are eligible for ORR services. They can adjust their status to Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) after one year and naturalize to U.S. Citizenship after five years in the U.S.

For more information and statistics regarding Tennessee’s refugee arrivals, please visit our Resources page.

Quick Facts:

  • More than 3 million refugees have arrived in the U.S. since the Refugee Act of 1980 was established.
  • According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) 2014 Global Trends report, there are currently 59.5 million people displaced worldwide - 13.9 million displaced in 2014 alone.
  • Though refugees with 79 different nationalities were resettled in the U.S., the four largest refugee populations resettled both nationally and in Tennessee in 2014 come from Iraq, Burma, Somalia, and Bhutan. These four comprise 66.5% of all refugees arriving in the U.S.
  • In 2014, over 1,600 refugees were resettled in Tennessee.
Facts compiled from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Please visit the Resources section for more information.

The services of our Basic Needs Programs work to meet the needs of people we serve in a supportive way.
Read more.
Immigration Services provides counseling, assistance in completing immigration forms and photographs to individuals seeking assistance in most immigration matters.
Read more.
Catholic Charities of Tennessee, Inc. has always been engaged in the humanitarian aid to refugees, starting with the finding of foster homes for 43 Cuban refugee children in 1962.
Read more.
If you are a parent looking for support to reduce stressors and increase your skills, our staff can help you with opportunities to meet the many challenges faced by families.
Read more.
A variety of services are provided to the Hispanic community in Middle Tennessee by Catholic Charities of Tennessee, Inc.'s Hispanic Services programs.
Read more.
Catholic Charities' Living at Home program assists seniors in their efforts to age in place.
Read more.
Since 1976, Catholic Charities School Counseling Program has helped thousands of students and their families find their way during times of distress.
Read more.
Caring Choices is a state-licensed adoption agency operated by Catholic Charities of TN, Inc. serving all races and religions.
Read more.
We have been engaged in humanitarian aid to refugee since 1962. Thousands from more than 35 countries have received help through Catholic Charities.
Read more.

Making a difference since 1962. CATHOLIC CHARITIES

2806 McGavock Pike
Nashville, TN 37214
Office: (615) 352-3087
Fax: (615) 352-8591

© 2019 Catholic Charities of Tennessee, Inc.