The Refugee Crisis

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The Resettlement Process


How to Become a Refugee 


Refugees are carefully and rigorously vetted before they are admitted to the U.S.

When they enter the U.S., they are assigned to a resettlement agency. You can locate the refugee resettlement agencies in your area here.

The resettlement agency assigns case managers who handle the Reception and Placement (R&P) of the refugees. These case managers attend to every aspect of the resettlement process. This includes finding and furnishing affordable housing, airport pick up, and culturally appropriate welcome. Case managers provide refugees with a thorough orientation to life in the United States, especially housing, employment, U.S. and state laws, etc.

For the first 90 days, the case managers also provide the refugees with important services including health screening referrals, social security card applications, social services applications, English Language Training referrals etc.

Each refugee is provided with a specific dollar amount (in Greensboro, North Carolina, for example, this is $1,100) for all of their expenses which include rent, food, transportation, etc. After 90 days, the refugees are expected to become self-sufficient. This includes becoming financially self-sufficient through employment.

Many resettlement agencies struggle with finding affordable and appropriate housing and many are always in need of volunteers to help refugees with daily activities (transportation to appointments, shopping, schooling, tutoring, filling out forms etc.) and with navigating the resettlement process.

Refugee resettlement agencies also always need “cultural brokers” — people who facilitate the transition of the refugees from their home culture to that of the U.S. Typically, cultural brokers have knowledge of the refugee’s native culture (which might include the refugee’s language) as well as the local culture where the refugees are resettling.

Read more about:


  • ​Refugee (according to United Sates law): A refugee is an individual outside of the United States, of special humanitarian concern to the U.S., who demonstrates they either were or feared persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group, and have yet to be firmly resettled in another country.
  • Process Priorities: This is a set list of three different priorities, one being the highest, and three the lowest. The priorities classify the priority of a refugee’s admittance to the United States.
  • USRAP: Stands for United States Refugee Admissions Program. This program works throughout different agencies, both governmental and nongovernmental, in the U.S. and abroad, to give refugee status, approve refugee admittance to the United States, and to then help refugees once they have arrived in the U.S.
  • USCIS: Stands for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. This government office is in charge of approving or denying a person eligibility to be classified as a refugee.
  • United States Reception and Placement: The program focuses on helping refugees once they have arrived in the U.S., and helping them settle in. The resources from this program are limited to the first three months after a refugee’s initial arrival.



In order to be considered a refugee you have to obtain a referral from the United States Refugee Admissions Program, or USRAP.

Once the referral is granted you are given help with filling out paperwork, applications, and are interviewed by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer to decide if you are eligible for refugee status.Your case may include a spouse, unmarried children twenty-one years old or younger, and possibly other family members. Same sex marriages are recognized by the United States, but only if the marriage was considered legal in the country you were married.

​Once you are approved and receive refugee status you are then given a medical exam, a cultural orientation, given help with travel plans, and are given a loan to pay for the travel fees to the United States.


  • Every refugee that arrives in the US is met by either a family member or from someone who works for one of the resettlement programs.
  • Refugees will be brought to an apartment that has been prepared with basic furniture, clothing, and food from their home culture.
  • After arrival refugees will be helped with the process of living in the U.S., such as applying for a Social Security card, enrolling children in school, becoming familiar with shopping areas, making appointments with doctors, and connecting them with any need services for language and cultural information.
  • It is strongly encouraged that refugees find jobs once they arrive. Unfortunately, many of the jobs available to refugees are lower level or entry positions, even if they previously had higher positions or careers in their home country.
  • There is a one-time sum of money given to refugees initially to help pay for rent, food, clothing, and any other necessities. The Department of State’s Reception and Placement program is limited to the first three months after arrival.
  • Non-governmental programs are available to refugees past the three-month limit.


  • One year after arrival you required to apply for permanent residence, often referred to as a Green Card.
  • Five years after arrival refugees are eligible to apply to become a U.S. citizen.

“Learn About the Refugee Application Process.” USCIS. Web.
“The Reception and Placement Program.” U.S. Department of State. U.S. Department of State. Web.
“Refugee Admissions.” U.S. Department of State. U.S. Department of State. Web.
Syrian Refugee Center on the Turkish Border. 2012. Wikipedia. Voice of America News: Henry Ridgwell on the Turkish Border, 3 Sept. 2012. Web.
“The United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) Consultation & Worldwide Processing Priorities.” USCIS. Web.
“U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.” U.S. Department of State. U.S. Department of State. Web.