Becoming a Refugee


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.


(Syrian Refugees at a Budapest Railway Station)


  • 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.


(Syrian Refugee Center on the Turkish Border)
Harms, Rebecca. Syrian Refugees at Budapest Keleti Railway Station. 2015. Wikipedia. Web.​
“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.