Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
March 1, 2001
U.S. Refugee Admissions and Resettlement Program
The U.S. considers for refugee admission persons of special humanitarian concern who can establish persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. The legal basis of the refugee admissions program is the Refugee Act of 1980 which embodies the American tradition of granting refuge to diverse groups suffering or fearing persecution.
Each year, there is an extensive consultative process during which representatives of the Administration and Congress, state and local governments, and private voluntary organizations focus on refugee resettlement needs worldwide and the domestic and international implications of U.S. refugee policy. The President, after congressional consultations, establishes refugee admissions levels and regional allocations for the coming fiscal year. A worldwide processing priority system sets the guidelines for the orderly management of refugee applications for admission to the U.S. within the regional ceilings.
Eligibility for refugee status is decided on a case-by-case basis. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) officers conduct personal interviews of all applicants. Those found eligible for refugee status and their immediate family members have medical examinations and attend cultural orientation sessions prior to departure for the U.S. Each refugee case is assigned to an American private voluntary agency that, working under a cooperative agreement with the Department of State, provides sponsorship and initial resettlement services, including housing, essential furnishings, food and other basic necessities, clothing, and additional orientation.
Transportation arrangements to the U.S. are usually made through the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Refugees are expected to repay the cost of their transportation. At the U.S. port of entry, INS admits the refugee officially to the U.S. and authorizes employment.
The U.S. Government's priority is to promote economic self-sufficiency as quickly as possible to limit the need for public assistance and encourage refugees to contribute to the diversity and enrichment of our country as previous newcomers have done. Programs funded by the Department of Health and Human Services and administered by each State provide cash and medical assistance, training programs and employment and other support services to assist refugees to make the adjustment to life in the U.S. After five years of residency, refugees are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.
Since 1975, over two million refugees have been offered permanent resettlement in the U.S.:
FY 2001 Admissions Program
The FY 2001 admissions ceiling is 80,000, distributed as follows: