Resources for Asylum Seekers & Asylees

Here are resources for asylum seekers we've put together so far. Your suggestions and additions are welcome! Please e-mail us at the address above.

Welcome! We hope this guide will help you feel more comfortable in New York/New Jersey. Please contact Sojourners c/o frances.connell (at) if you have any questions.

Useful phone numbers

Emergency (police, fire, medical): 911

New York Immigration Hot line: 1-800-566-7636.  Hours: 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday
Languages: Spanish, Creole, French, Italian, Chinese, Russian, Polish, Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Albanian, Croatian, Macedonian, Arabic, Turkish, Korean

New York City's number for government information: 311 (outside the city: 212-NEW-YORK)
Languages: More than 100 available. The recorded welcome message offers Spanish, Russian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean and Creole. Among other things, call this number to request connection to reputable legal help.

Note: You can also send requests by text message

Where am I?

New York subway map:

Manhattan bus map:

Bronx bus map:

Brooklyn bus map:

Queens bus map:

Free English classes

Riverside Language Program: 212-662-3200
Admission by lottery; see website for instructions.

International Center: 212-255-9555

City University of New York: 212-794-5302

Literary Assistance Center: 212-803-3300

New York Public Libraries

Libraries offer free internet access, free classes and free loans of books and videos.

How to get a free New York Public Library Card:

1. Go to
2. Click on "Using the Library"
3. Under "Getting Oriented," click on "Get a Library Card"
4. You may apply online or in person at any New York Public Library location or library-sponsored event.
5. You must present valid identification (an I-94 works) in person at any NYPL location before collecting your card. Bring your current address with you, including zip code.
6. Once you have your card, you can use it to borrow materials, download E-NYPL material, search library databases and reserve a computer.

Note: Branch libraries are open different days and hours. The Mid-Manhattan Library at 40th Street and Fifth Avenue is open 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Free Internet (other sources)

New York Parks:
Legal Aid self-help centers:
This is a list of community groups that offer free Internet and computer use.

Free Wi-Fi

Starbucks and other cafes and many public places offer free wi-fi access, but you must bring your own laptop computer.

Money issues

Financial literacy classes at public libraries:
You can sign up for a free 30-minute class with a financial advisor.

Online booklets on money issues for immigrants. Spanish, French and other languages available:

Moneywise: Very wordy. English, Spanish and Asian languages.

Appleseed: English, Spanish. English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian.

Immigrant Financial Justice Project: Hotline for free financial and legal advice in English, French and Spanish. 212-925-4929. Tuesdays and Wednesdays 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursdays 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Resources in English and Spanish:

Free food (soup kitchens)

The New York City Coalition Against Hunger:
Guide to free food in the city, including soup kitchens (for a hot meal) and food pantries (for free groceries):

Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen: 212-924-0167
Free breakfast and lunch in return for volunteering, Monday through Friday. Go at 9 a.m. the first time to register. Say you are new in the city, heard about the soup kitchen and want to volunteer. That is all you need to say.

Free medical and psychological help

Bellevue Program for Survivors of Torture: 212-562-8713
Medical, psychological, legal and social help to people who suffered torture or trauma

Libertas Center for Human Rights: 718-334-6209
Medical, psychological, legal and social help to people who suffered torture or trauma

HealthRight International Human Rights Clinic: 212-584-4865
The clinic provides free medical and mental health affidavits to substantiate claims of torture. You MUST have a lawyer contact the clinic on your behalf. You must have an appointment.

Refugee and Immigrant Fund:
Social support and pro bono legal referrals. Psychological affidavits are available but only at a lawyer’s request.

The Medina Clinic in Harlem:
Harlem Hospital Center, 506 Lenox Ave, 212-939-8400 Saturdays 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Lenox Avenue Health Center, 115 West 116th Street, 212-961-5740 Fridays 3 to 7 p.m.
The center focuses on the Islamic community, including from the African community, but all are welcome. Undocumented immigrants are welcome, and service is confidential. They will talk with you about how much money you can pay. They can help even if you can’t pay. Bring your ID and papers showing your address and date of birth.

African Services Committee: 212-222-3882
Legal and social services for African immigrants

Sauti Yetu Center for African Women: 718-665-2486
Legal, social and medical counseling for individual and groups of African women. There is a focus on reproductive health and family violence protection.

Legal information on seeking asylum

Information on applying for asylum, in English and Spanish:
Go down to the section called “Asylum/Withholding of Removal/Convention Against Torture Relief. This resource is mostly for people without a lawyer.

Legal rights

“Know Your Rights” legal guide from the American Civil Liberties Union

In English:
In French:
In Spanish:
In Arabic:
In Urdu:
In Farsi:

Inexpensive clothing

Salvation Army Thrift Shop:
We recommend 315 West 47th Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues). 212-975-9988

Housing Works:
The closest location to Riverside Church is at 2569 Broadway between 96th and 97th streets. 212-222-3550 Hours: Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday 12-5 p.m.

Less expensive than Housing Works. The closest location to Riverside Church is 217 West 79th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam. 212-874-5050. Hours: Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Free or inexpensive books

In addition to the New York Public Libraries …

The Strand Bookstore: 212-473-1452. 828 Broadway at 12th Street. Hours: Monday-Saturday 9:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-10:3 p.m.
It has thousands of books outside for $1 each.

Housing Works stores also have books for about $2 each.

Places to volunteer
NYC Service:
You can search opportunities by location, date, kinds of work and your skills.

New York Cares: 212-228-5000.
You have to sign up for a volunteer orientation class first.

Urban Farm Recovery project:
An internship program that offers urban farming skills and therapy for asylum seekers.

Training for future work

CAMBA Immigrant Professional Training Program: 718-287-2600
It may be possible for professionals to audit (go to classes without getting a certificate) and learn about licensing and education in their field.

Religious centers

Search for churches by neighborhood:

List of mosques:

The Interfaith Center of New York. 212-870-3510 475 Riverside Drive
It can help contact all kinds of religious organizations. It is located very close to The Riverside Church.

Grocery stores with food from other countries

There are several African grocery stores on and around 116th Street.

Low-cost groceries from other countries:

Free cultural events

NYCGo: The website lets you translate the pages in to French, Spanish and other languages. Look for “Select Language” at the top right of the page.

Time Out New York: The website lists free tours, free museums, free classes and more.

Club Free Time: The website lists today’s free events, from morning to night.

Free exercise (2011)

Free yoga in Bryant Park: Through the end of September, Tuesdays at 10 a.m. behind the library and Thursdays at 6 p.m. on the lawn. One hour. Bring a mat or a thick towel and wear comfortable sports clothing. 42nd Street at Sixth Avenue.

Free tai chi (Chinese stretching) in Bryant Park: Through the end of September. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7:30 a.m. One hour.

Free dance in Bryant Park: Through Sept. 10. Saturdays at 11 a.m. on the lawn.

Free tai chi in Riverside Park: Through Aug. 29. Sundays at 8 a.m. One and a half hours. West 89th Street at Riverside Drive by the statue.

Free yoga in Riverside Park: Through Sept. 22. Wednesdays at 6:30. One hour. Bring a mat or a thick towel and wear comfortable sports clothing. 66th Street by the Hudson River.

Summer suggestions (2011)

Free stargazing on the High Line: Through Sept. 6. Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. Two hours. Look at the stars through telescopes at New York’s newest park. Near Tenth Avenue and 13th Street.

Free movies at Bryant Park: Through Aug. 22. Mondays at sundown. Sit on the grass with thousands of New Yorkers. Sixth Avenue at 42nd Street. Note: They inspect your bags.

Free music at Central Park: Through the end of August. Usually starts at 6 p.m. or later. A variety of music. Note: Some events are full quickly and then you can’t get in. The east side of the park near 72nd Street.

Free movies at all other New York City parks:

Free dance and music at the Brooklyn Museum: The first Saturday of every month, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. A variety of music. Take the 2 or 3 train to the Eastern Parkway station in Brooklyn.

Free boats to Governors Island: Through Sept. 25. Fridays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. A beautiful island park with a variety of cultural events every weekend. Free ferries leave every hour from 10 South Street, to the left of the Staten Island Ferry station. Take the 1 train to the South Ferry station or the R train to the Whitehall Street station.