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Volunteer in the DC Area

The COVID-19 outbreak has been scary and disruptive. Yet even as we focus on keeping up with the news and making changes to our daily lives, the world’s refugees and asylum seekers still deserve our attention and support. If you would like to receive updates about our urgent volunteering and donation needs in the Washington, D.C. area during this public health emergency, please fill out our volunteering application here and check “yes” to receive our volunteer newsletter.

HIAS’ global headquarters are located in Silver Spring, MD. Below are several ways you can join HIAS in welcoming refugees and asylum seekers into our communities.

What to know before applying to volunteer with HIAS:

  • Volunteers must be 18+

  • Volunteer time commitment will vary depending on volunteer opportunity

  • Each volunteer’s schedule and volunteering location is unique to the individual volunteer role

Experience or knowledge of a foreign language is not required for most opportunities.

To express interest in volunteering with one of the above opportunities, click here to create a basic volunteer profile.

To express interest in the advocacy and community engagement opportunities listed above, please complete this form.

Please click here for Volunteer Resources.

Direct Service Volunteer Opportunities

HIAS provides legal support for asylum seekers locally in the Greater D.C. Area, and engages volunteers to extend the reach of our current services. We provide opportunities for volunteers to share their specialized skills and further our mission to improve the lives of refugees and asylum seekers.

English Language Partners

English Language Partners (ELPs) empower asylum seekers to communicate with their neighbors, employers, and service providers by offering English instruction. In this way, their support is critical to clients’ long-term success. Depending on the need of their mentee(s), ELPs might work with individuals or small groups. The ideal ELP should have some background in working with ESL language students and/or a strong second-language skill coupled with experience in education.

*English Language Partners are asked to meet with their partner for at least two hours per week for a duration of 6 months. After 6 months, mentors and mentees will decide whether to continue for another term.

Cultural Orientation Facilitation

Cultural Orientation Facilitators are trained to teach a cultural orientation class, which they will then facilitate on a monthly basis. Topics span from the American healthcare system to financial literacy, and classes are open to HIAS legal clients and the immigrant community at large. HIAS seeks volunteers who can teach the cultural orientation class in Spanish, English, French, or Amharic.

*Cultural Orientation Facilitators are asked to facilitate once a month for a duration of 6 months, as well as participate in a facilitation training specific to the topic they are assigned to. After 6 months, facilitators will decide whether to continue for another term.

Mentorship Program

Through a partnership of cultural exchange, mutual support, and cooperative problem solving, HIAS Mentors work one-on-one with asylum seekers (HIAS legal clients) based in the greater Washington D.C. area. The ongoing support that defines the mentor-mentee relationship makes a significant positive difference in HIAS clients’ comfort in their new communities and in their capacity to face and address the many challenges related to and resulting from the legal process. The ideal mentor will think creatively about connecting mentees to local communities, resources, and neighbors (e.g., informing them of local events, opportunities, and/or networks). All applicants to the mentorship program must also be prepared to support their mentees if and when they encounter emotionally and/or psychologically difficult situations.  

*Mentors meet with their mentees for at least two hours per week for a duration of at least 6 months. After 6 months, mentors and mentees will decide whether to continue for another term. Weekday availability is preferred but not required.

English as a New Language (ENL) Tutor

ENL tutors help clients with a beginner’s level of English gain English language skills in speaking, reading, and writing. ​HIAS ENL tutors must have professional experience teaching English to non-native English speakers, as HIAS does not provide a technical training on teaching English. In this role, volunteers will meet with mentees one on one or in small groups of five to six students.​

*ENL tutors are asked to meet with their partner for at least two hours per week for a duration of 6 months. After 6 months, mentors and mentees will decide whether to continue for another term. 

Accompaniment Volunteer

Accompaniment Volunteers provide transportation to and emotional and logistical support before, during, and after appointments relates to HIAS clients' legal cases.​ Possible appointments include ICE and ISAP check-ins, court hearings, and social service appointments. In this way, community members are able to alleviate some of the challenges that many asylum seekers experience as they navigate their cases. 

*Volunteers accompany clients, on average, to approximately one appointment every two months. Weekday availability is generally required for this position.​

Interpretation and Translation Opportunities


Volunteer Interpreters and Translators assist with in-person and remote interpretation and translation needs to provide ongoing support to refugees, asylees, and Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders.  Under the direction of HIAS staff, the primary responsibility of the interpreter/translator volunteer is to facilitate accurate, culturally competent, and sensitive communication between non English speaking clients and HIAS staff. This role will directly impact the lives and legal processes of our clients.  All HIAS interpreters and translators are required to undergo HIAS' Volunteer Interpreter/Translator training once accepted.

This role directly impacts the lives, resettlement and legal processes of our clients as they navigate the U.S. refugee resettlement, asylum, and integration process.

*Translators and interpreters spend, on average, two hours per week volunteering their time and language expertise to HIAS’ asylum seeking and resettlement clients in person, over the phone or through remote written translation.

*Languages needed: Russian, Ukrainian, Dari, Pashto, Arabic, French, and Spanish.

Letter-Writing Program


Join HIAS for a monthly program offering compassion and solidarity to asylum seekers in immigration detention through letter writing with individuals who have requested correspondence, helping them access hope and connection. The program occurs monthly at a convenient location in downtown Washington, DC. Registered participants will receive the exact location three days before the event. Participants must be 18+.


Advocacy & Community Engagement Opportunities

Below are just a few of the ways you can join HIAS in welcoming refugees and asylum seekers into our communities and advocating on behalf of those seeking to rebuild their lives here in safety and with dignity.

  • HIAS Action DC: Speak out for refugees and asylum seekers by joining our network of passionate people in their 20s and 30s who are committed to strategic advocacy on U.S. refugee policy. HIAS Action DC works to build a strong and connected network by hosting social gatherings and learning and advocacy opportunities throughout the year.

  • Action Alerts: Join our advocacy list to stay up-to-date on current action campaigns, petitions, or upcoming rallies.