CRIS began as the outreach service of the Buddhamamaka Society, Inc., a mutual assistance association founded in 1987 by refugees from Laos. In 1995, the Society established CRIS in response to the unexpected closings of two local refugee resettlement offices. The Society provided space for CRIS in the garage located next to the Lao Temple on Columbus’ east side. Initial funding for services was provided by a grant from the Columbus Foundation and a contract with the Franklin County Department of Human Services.
In 1999, CRIS was selected by the City of Columbus and United Way to open its second office in order to return services to immigrants in the Hilltop area on Columbus’ west side. In the same year, CRIS became an independent 501(c)(3) organization, while retaining a close relationship with the Buddhamamaka Society.
In 2001, CRIS became the Church World Service (CWS) Ohio affiliate to provide refugee resettlement services (reception and placement of refugees admitted to the United States from overseas). An additional office was opened on the north side of Columbus in proximity to the growing refugee population in the area.
In 2004, the agency was approved for Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) Recognition, a designation authorizing CRIS to represent clients before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS, formerly the INS) and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).
In 2010, CRIS grew again to serve as an affiliate of Episcopal Migrations Ministries (EMM) to expand the agency’s ability to resettle refugees fleeing persecution throughout the world.