Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Services (LIRS)



Baltimore, MD

Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2017):

Revenue: $52,144,990
Expenses: $50,066,702
Assets: $21,467,399




Refugee Resettlement and Educational Organization

Executive Director:

Krish O’Mara Vignarajah

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Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Services is a non-profit that works with the United States government to assist in the placement, settlement, and integration of refugees. It was founded in 1939 and has assisted in resettling hundreds of thousands of refugees. LIRS is also active on the southern border of the United States, assisting placing unaccompanied minors in foster homes or locating and placing children with family already in the U.S. Its mission is rooted in the organization’s Lutheran Christianity. 1 2

Founding and History

Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Services was founded in 1939 and since then has helped 500,000 refugees resettle in the United States, including displaced Germans and Eastern Europeans following World War II, Hungarians following the unsuccessful anti-Communist 1956 Hungarian Revolution, Cuban exiles following the Communist Cuban Revolution, and many others in the aftermath of conflicts around the globe. 3


In fiscal year 2018, Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Services had $50,597,305 in revenue, of which $47,840,400 came from contributions and grants and $2,522,312 came from program service revenue. LIRS had $47,815,775 in expenses, of which $35,454,187 was paid out in grants and $7,992,653 was paid out in salary and other forms of compensation. The organization ended the year with a budget surplus of $2,781,530 and $14,021,457 in assets. 4


Refugee Resettlement

Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Services’ main function is to resettle refugees in the United States. To date it has resettled over 500,000 refugees in the U.S. An integral part of LIRS’ process is the “long welcome” and refers to the process of seeking to integrate refugees into their new communities through fostering civic participation over time. 5 6

Foster Care and Family Reunification

LIRS works with the U.S. government to place unaccompanied children who cross the border alone, or children who have been separated from their parents or accompanying adults at the border, with foster care, with family in the United States, or to reunite them with their family. After children are placed, either with their families or a foster home, LIRS continues to provide support services to assist in their integration into American society. 7 8 LIRS works with the U.S. government in order to screen potential caregivers or sponsors to protect children from potential human trafficking. LIRS also directs potential sponsors to legal resources to address their legal status and therefore make them less vulnerable to potential trafficking. 9

Economic Assistance

LIRS has several different initiatives to economically assist refugees. These include financial literacy training, technical training, and youth career training. 10

Criticism of Trump Administration

Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Services issued statements critical of the Trump Administration’s refugee policies. LIRS’ President O’Mara Vignarajah has called for the end of the family separation detainment policy on the southern border, and called the election of Joe Biden as “a new dawn in America” and the previous four years of the Trump administration “a dark chapter for our immigrant brothers and sisters.” She also stated that the Trump administration’s travel ban was a “xenophobic Muslim ban.” O’Mara Vignarajah has also called the administration’s decision to resettle only 15,000 refugees in fiscal year 2021 as a “heartless decision [. . .] diametrically opposed to our values as a welcoming nation.” 11 12 13


Krish O’Mara Vignarajah is the President and CEO of Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Services. She previously worked at McKinsey & Company, the Washington DC law firm Jenner & Block, clerked for Chief Judge Michael Boudin on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and has worked as an adjunct at Georgetown University. Before joining LIRS she worked in the Obama White House as the Policy Director for First Lady Michelle Obama, and as a Senior Advisor at the State Department to both Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. 14 O’Mara Vignarajah has contributed to the left-of-center PAC ActBlue. 15


  1. “80 Years of Welcome.” Accessed November 13, 2020.
  2. “Mission & Vision.” Accessed November 13, 2020.
  3. “80 Years of Welcome.” Accessed November 13, 2020.
  4. Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Services, IRS (Form 990), 2018, Part I
  5. “80 Years of Welcome.” Accessed November 13, 2020.
  6. “The Long Welcome.” Accessed November 13, 2020.
  7. “How Foster Care Works?” Accessed November 13, 2020.
  8. “Family Reunification.” Accessed November 13, 2020.
  9. “Preventing Child Trafficking.” Accessed November 13, 2020.
  10. “Economic Empowerment for Migrants & Refugees.” Accessed November 13, 2020.
  11. “Leading Child Welfare Group Calls for Release of Children and Families From Ice Detention.”, September 22, 2020. Accessed November 13, 2020.
  12. “LIRS STATEMENT: 2020 Presidential Election Results,” November 9, 2020. Accessed November 13, 2020.
  13. “Trump Signs Lowest Refugee Admissions in U.S. History.”, October 28, 2020. Accessed November 13, 2020.
  14. “Biography: Krish O’Mara Vignarajah.” Accessed November 13, 2020.
  15. “Individual Contributions: Kirsh Vignarajah.” Accessed November 13, 2020.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: February 1, 1972

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $52,144,990 $50,066,702 $21,467,399 $10,223,000 N $49,732,359 $2,012,739 $72,894 $1,014,288 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $69,190,040 $68,749,482 $24,082,146 $14,920,431 N $67,228,228 $1,937,514 $38,063 $750,401
    2015 Dec Form 990 $55,983,615 $56,099,021 $19,179,975 $10,460,805 N $53,864,339 $1,951,368 $26,750 $884,711 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $59,862,898 $59,479,285 $19,134,759 $10,413,681 N $57,881,489 $1,859,495 $8,996 $606,163 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $50,369,517 $49,724,360 $19,233,060 $11,023,405 N $48,392,082 $1,788,150 $6,268 $398,706 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $43,563,804 $43,258,375 $17,367,883 $9,808,481 N $41,757,518 $1,630,183 $8,653 $214,237 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $33,405,810 $32,988,427 $15,276,782 $8,026,117 N $31,653,748 $1,587,978 $21,385 $583,757 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Services (LIRS)

    700 LIGHT ST
    Baltimore, MD 21230-3850