Immigrants who have recently relocated to a new country may find themselves torn between two worlds as they work to forge connections in their new home while maintaining ties with loved ones left behind. This is on top of other difficulties immigrants may face, such as the challenge of communicating in a second language or financial uncertainty. Church leaders can help immigrants find a place in their congregations and connect them with aid programs.
Finding housing is usually the first step you’ll make when you arrive. For those without much income, federal housing programs may help. If you or a member of your household are a citizen or an eligible non-citizen, you can apply to find housing through restricted programs such as Public Housing. For those ineligible for restricted housing, there are federal programs that aid persons with housing regardless of their status.
Seeking employment and entrepreneurship
Establishing a sustainable income through a meaningful career is an important part of integrating into your new community. If you are job searching, be aware of legal regulations on employment for non-citizens. Online job boards can not only show you who’s hiring; you can even sign up to have job alerts sent to you. Find out whether or not there are any immigrant-owned or immigrant-friendly businesses hiring in your neighborhood.
Making new connections
Your church can be a great venue for getting acquainted with other families and individuals. Other ways you can connect with your community include participating in local events, joining clubs, and signing up for classes.
Maintaining old connections
While you settle in and learn the ropes in your new environment, you will need the support of loved ones back home. Using social media can help you stay connected daily at little cost to yourself. Just be cautious what you share on social media.
You can also stay connected by sending home care packages or offering financial support.
Shipping overseas can be expensive, so use a service like Parcel Monkey, which offers competitive shipping rates and offers service around the world to countries like India, Pakistan, South Africa, Mexico and more. If you plan to send money home to your family, forgo using prepaid cards or choosing a bank transfer and instead opt for a remittance service. For instance, if you are sending money home to family in Mumbai, a service like Remitly can move your money in as few as four hours for only $3.99.
How pastors can help
If an immigrant family has joined your congregation, get to know them so you are aware of their skill sets and experience. Help them connect with employers who may be hiring or community leaders who can aid with mentorship or references. If an immigrant in your faith community is in need of legal support in order to work in the United States, guide them towards attorneys or legal experts who are qualified and licensed to assist them. If they are seeking housing, you can direct them to resources and help them navigate the real estate market.
Immigrants have much to offer their communities, but it’s important for those around them to help them to participate. Faith communities and pastors can play a crucial role in this regard. If you are a pastor looking for new ways to help your congregation, let Pastor Resources inspire you. Subscribe today.