All migrants and refugees are protected, embraced and empowered in a world of just and welcoming communities.

Witnessing to God’s love for all people, we stand with and advocate for migrants and refugees, transforming communities through ministries of service and justice.

Core Values

  • Welcome | Grateful for God's welcome, we receive each other with compassion and joy, opening ourselves up in relationship and to the transformation that occurs as we discover each other's gifts, journeying together in service and justice. Our community is marked by open invitation, encouraging a place for all within it.

  • Prophetic Witness | Confident and determined, we stand up and speak out boldly, inviting others to join our voices to seek justice when conscience demands, promoting the God-given dignity of all and demonstrating the courage to be consistently fair.

  • Integrity | Faithful to God's call to be good stewards, sharing the life, place and abundance we have been given, we are responsible, open, honest, trustworthy and accountable as we carry out our mission.

  • Innovation | Committed to bold action, continuous learning and open to new ideas, we invite others to join our mission, discovering together new and better ways to engage in our shared work of welcome.

  • Interdependence | Strengthened by our diversity, we are mutually dependent. Our dynamic relationships are marked by accompanying each other and a commitment to work together.
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) draws from the deep well of our Lutheran theological understanding, our cherished Lutheran heritage, our commitment to humanitarian relief and our identity as people with immigrant roots as we put faith into action in solidarity with migrants and refugees. We approach our work from a grounding in our deepest core values, reflecting our understanding of how we witness to God’s love for all people to realize a vision of just and welcoming communities.

LIRS works with migrants and refugees, U.S. Lutherans, and many partners in service and justice to accomplish our mission. Refugees are resettled through a network of 28 local organizations in 26 states, most of which are Lutheran social ministry organizations. Sixteen of those organizations also provide immigration legal services. Asylum seekers, survivors of torture and other migrants impacted by detention are served through 23 partners providing legal and social services including visitation ministry. In addition, we work directly with eight foster care programs at the state level to provide family reunification and foster care services for unaccompanied refugee and immigrant minors.

Our services and advocacy fall into five concrete categories of activity that intersect and reinforce each other holistically. These activity areas are acknowledged hallmarks of LIRS’s work and are where we focus our energy and convert our expertise into service:

  • Basic human needs—developing sustainable approaches for migrants and refugees to access food, health, housing and jobs;

  • Protection and justice—ensuring that policies and programs are just and protective of migrants and refugees who face the greatest risks, and that human rights are advanced through providing legal services, advocating for legal reform and pursuing systems change

  • Children and families—providing care and protection, promoting family unity, strengthening international families

  • Integration—building welcoming and inclusive communities that reach out to those at risk

  • Leadership and influence—acting and speaking with courage and integrity, building capacity and supporting the leadership of others.

LIRS has welcomed more than 379,000 refugees to the United States through the initiative of Lutheran congregations that inspired our formation in 1939, and Lutheran churches remain our vital partners as we continue to welcome newcomers. Informed by our Lutheran faith and decades of experience with migrants and refugees, we have responded to people caught in conflict and facing persecution. We have developed new service programs, birthed new service organizations, and influenced public policy in the best interests of those we serve.


For more than seven decades, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service has been a champion for migrants and refugees from around the globe. Our legacy of courageous and compassionate service has made a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who have sought safety and hope in America’s communities. Our history reflects American Lutherans’ deep immigrant roots and passionate commitment to welcoming newcomers. Read more ...