The history of Irish immigration to the US is full of examples of the significant contributions that Irish people have made. However, along with the successes come the challenges of integrating into a new country and culture, challenges immigrants have to face without the support of extended families and social networks that they had in Ireland. The Irish Centers across the USA have stepped into the breach to provide the support and assistance that immigrants need to get through the difficult times and make their lives here as successful as they had hoped when they first made the decision to emigrate.
Below you will find details on the types of services that you might expect to find at the Irish Center in your area. Individual Centers provide their own unique menu of services so please check with the individual Centers to find what they offer.
Immigration and Citizenship
Irish Centers provide information, referral and assistance to help immigrants to negotiate the increasingly stringent and complex process of applying for US visas and citizenship. Immigration services at the centers provide information on the procedures for most routine immigration matters and referrals to reliable immigration attorneys. Many Irish immigrants have been taken in by scams so we strongly advise immigrants to contact an immigration center for information or attorney referral.
Counseling, Social Services, Benefits and Healthcare Issues
Immigrants may experience difficulties in making the transition to a new country. Problems are exacerbated for those who are undocumented and those who do not have health insurance. Irish Centers have developed a variety of services and supports to help immigrants who are experiencing problems.
Programs and Services for Seniors
Irish Centers in many areas have or are reaching out to seniors in the community. Services provided include “young at heart” groups, luncheons, trips, classes, educational programs and yoga. It is a great way to meet new people, develop new interests, network and have some fun.
Housing and Employment
The first challenge facing most immigrants is to find employment and accommodation. Irish Centers provide assistance with this via notice boards, listings and personal knowledge of the area and its employers. They provide information about rights and responsibilities and can help new or long term immigrants find that perfect job or apartment.
Outreach and Family Services
You will find a variety of programs available for individuals, groups and families that include counseling as well as support groups for bereavement, suicide, personal or family problems. You can often find health screenings, seminars on career changes and information on US or Irish citizenship.
Negotiating a new and complex system can be a challenge so if you are having difficulty accessing social services, health care or other entitlements check with you local Center to see if they can provide guidance or assistance. They can help you to identify what is available and to access what you need, whether it is health care, day care or substance abuse services. Many of the centers offer services such as immigration advocacy, prisoner visitation and workers rights.
Returning to Ireland
The decision to return to Ireland can often be as difficult at the original decision to emigrate. It is important to make sure that going home is the right thing for you. Immigration Centers provide information on resources available in Ireland to help make the transition easier. Those thinking of returning should consider the costs of moving, the cost of returning to the US if not happy and the cost of living in Ireland. Also consider the personal costs and consider the pros and cons carefully. Check with your local Irish Center to get detailed and current information on these and other topics before you make your decision.
Irish Pastoral Centers are parishes without boundaries. They minister to the spiritual needs of the community in the US by providing pre-marriage courses, counseling and preparation of marriage papers for weddings here, or in Ireland. They provide support during times of illness or death. They gather the community together to celebrate Mass and visit the sick, elderly or those who are incarcerated as part of their ministry.
If you cannot find an Irish Center near you please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we will help you find the resources you need.