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The process by which an individual is permitted to legally enter the United States as a refugee.


This is the method of distributing individual refugee cases to various voluntary agencies in order to obtain resettlement sponsors for them here in the U.S. This is done in Arlington, Virginia at the Refugee Processing Center on the basis of information contained in the bio data forms received from overseas processing posts.


The favorable adjudication by a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officer of an application for U.S. refugee admission. The same term is used in the case of favorable adjudication of an immigrant visa application by a consular officer.

The term "assistance" here refers to activities that provide relief to refugees, conflict victims and internally displaced persons. Such relief includes food, clean water, shelter, health care, basic education, job training, sanitation, and provision of physical and legal protection. Humanitarian assistance is often given in response to emergencies, but may need to continue in longer-term situations.


The beneficiary of an approved application for asylum.


Under U.S. law, a status that may be granted to an alien physically present in the U.S. , whom has been determined, among other requirements, to satisfy the U.S. statutory definition of a refugee. After a continuous year in asylum status, an alien may petition for adjustment to permanent resident status. Only 10,000 such requests may be approved in any fiscal year.

Asylum-migration nexus

Refers to “mixed flows” of migrants -- an undifferentiated combination of documented and undocumented travelers, smuggled migrants, asylum seekers, refugees and trafficking victims moving through an area.

Capacity Building Activities

Training activities to improve skills and ability of humanitarian organizations to manage programs.

Civil society entities

Non-governmental associations of citizens, charitable or otherwise, formed for the purpose of providing benefit to the members and to society. This includes non-governmental organizations that are constituted for the purpose of humanitarian work.

Displaced Person

An individual who has been forced or obliged to flee or leave his or her home temporarily and who expect to return eventually.

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) have relocated within their country, while externally displaced persons have crossed an international border. Depending upon their ability to return, and whether they are subject to persecution in their home country, externally displaced persons may be entitled to recognition as refugees under UNHCR's -mandate.

Durable Solution

The three durable solutions traditionally identified for refugees are: voluntary return to country of origin (also known as voluntary repatriation), local integration in the country of refuge, or resettlement in a third country.

First Asylum Country

A country that permits refugees to enter its territory for purposes of providing asylum temporarily, pending eventual repatriation or resettlement (locally or in a third country). First asylum countries usually obtain the assistance of UNHCR to provide basic assistance to the refugees.

Local Integration

One of the three "durable solutions" -- voluntary return, local integration, third-country resettlement – sought for refugees. When voluntary return to their home country is not possible, refugees can sometimes settle with full legal rights in the country to which they have fled (also known as the country of first asylum). This is local integration.

The bureau works diplomatically to encourage host governments to uphold their responsibilities to protect refugees and internally displaced persons through local integration and provides assistance to meet these humanitarian needs.

Mixed Flows

A “mixed flow” of migrants may include a combination of documented travelers, smuggled migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees.


A principle which, as codified in the 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol, precludes return of a refugee to a country where his/her life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, with certain limited exceptions.

Overseas Processing Entity (OPE)

An entity funded by the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration's (PRM's) Admissions Office to prepare the paperwork on individual refugee cases prior to interview by the Department of Homeland Security's United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (DHS/USCIS). Once approved by DHS, an OPE helps the refugee complete processing by requesting a sponsorship assurance from a resettlement agency in the U.S.; scheduling the refugee for a medical examination; ensuring a security namecheck has been done; arranging travel through the International Organization for Migration (IOM), etc.

Depending on the processing location, the OPE function is currently performed by a non-governmental organization (e.g., Church World Service in Nairobi ); an international organization (e.g., IOM in Cairo or the International Catholic Migration Commission in Turkey ); or within an Embassy by personal service contractors.


Parole is an extraordinary measure through which the Secretary of Homeland Security may bring an otherwise inadmissible alien into the United States for a temporary period of time for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. Parole is not regarded as an admission of the alien to U.S. under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Protected Migrant

Pursuant to an Executive Order of the President of the United States, an individual interdicted at sea who is determined to have a “well-founded fear” of persecution, or is more likely than not to face torture if he/she returns to his/her country of origin, and whom the U.S. Government houses and cares for at its Migrant Operation Center on the Guantanamo Naval Base while it finds a third country in which to resettle him/her.


Any of the activities that provide safety, residence rights, or opportunities for personal development for refugees in the places to which they have fled.

Examples of protection include:

  • providing documentation to stateless persons, working with local governments to secure the rights of refugees in their place of refuge;
  • preventing forced returns;
  • preventing and combating gender-based violence;
  • securing education and job training for refugees; and
  • maintaining an international presence in places where refugees have fled.

Reception and Placement (R&P)

The PRM Bureau's program to assign agency sponsors for and provide initial reception services to arriving refugees during their first three months in the U.S., carried out through cooperative agreements with voluntary agencies.



Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, any person who is outside any country of such person's nationality or, in the case of a person having no nationality, is outside any country in which such person last habitually resided, and who is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

Refugee Processing Center (RPC)

An entity located in Rosslyn , Virginia that is operated by the Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) and managed by the PRM Admissions Office. The RPC performs data collection and processing services for the refugee admissions program, including case allocation, sponsorship assurances, and statistical reporting. The RPC houses the U. S. Government's Worldwide Refugee Admissions Processing System (WRAPS) database and provides technical support for OPE's using WRAPS.

Regional Migration Processes

Mechanisms for governments to meet at a regional level to discuss migration policies and programs. An example is the "Regional Conference on Migration" that encompasses Central American states as well as Mexico, the United States, and Canada.


Voluntary return of a refugee to his/her country of origin when conditions permit. This is the favorite of the three “durable solutions” available to a refugee.


The process of relocating a refugee to a third country. When it is clear that a refugee will not be able to return to his/her home and cannot be integrated into the country to which he/she has fled, resettlement is the only solution left.

Resettlement Agencies

This term describes the nine U.S. private voluntary agencies and one state agency that have cooperative agreements with the PRM Bureau to provide reception and placement services to newly arrived refugees in the United States. Such agencies receive per capita grants and administrative overhead funding from PRM, which is supplemented by self-generated resources, to provide refugees with a range of services including sponsorship, initial housing, food and clothing, orientation and counseling. The Bureau enters into agreements with such agencies annually, based on a proposal submission and review process.


The organization that assists newly arrived refugees on their arrival in the U.S. In all cases, under the terms of the Bureau's Reception and Placement Cooperative Agreement, the voluntary agency accepting sponsorship responsibility must ensure that certain services are provided. Established community groups may agree in writing to provide the actual assistance and many programs use volunteers.

Sponsorship Assurance

An administrative mechanism for providing sponsors for individual refugees prior to their admission to the United States. The Refugee Processing Center in Arlington, Virginia receives biographical information from posts  through the Worldwide Refugee Admissions Processing System (WRAPS) concerning refugees in need of sponsors.  


According to the UNHCR, a stateless person is "someone who, under national laws, does not enjoy citizenship – the legal bond between a government and an individual – with any country." While some people are de jure or legally stateless persons (meaning they are not recognized as citizens under the laws of any state), many people are de facto or effectively stateless persons (meaning they are not recognized as citizens by any state even if they have a claim to citizenship under the laws of one or more states).

Trafficking in Persons

Any person who is recruited, harbored, provided, or obtained through force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjecting that person to involuntary servitude, forced labor, or commercial sex qualifies as a trafficking victim.

For more information on State Department's activity to prevent trafficking in persons, please see www.state.gov/g/tip

Voluntary Agencies

See “Resettlement Agencies

Worldwide Refugee Admissions Processing System (WRAPS)

The database system that tracks refugee processing through use of a globally-linked case tracking system.


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