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The U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program – an Overview

Published: September 14, 2015

Messsage for anyone outside the U.S. seeking refugee status

Image depicting the progression of refugee resettlement as described in the article.

The Departments of Homeland Security (DHS), State and Health and Human Services (HHS) work together to uphold America’s humanitarian response to refugees through the U.S. Resettlement Program (USRP).

  • Once the United Nations and U.S. embassies refer refugee cases for resettlement consideration, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers at DHS conduct individual interviews and clearances, and final determinations for admission.
  • The State Department’s Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) coordinates admissions and allocations to specific cities and resettlement agencies, in conjunction with nine national voluntary agencies that oversee a network of some 250 affiliates in 49 states plus the District of Columbia through the Reception & Placement Program.  When refugees arrive at their destination, these local affiliates greet them at the airport, help them with housing and access to other resources.
  • From the date of arrival, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) at HHS provides short-term cash and medical assistance to new arrivals, as well as case management services, English as a Foreign Language classes, and job readiness and employment services – all designed to facilitate refugees’ successful transition in the U.S., and help them to attain self-sufficiency.

ORR supports additional programs to serve all eligible populations beyond the first eight months post-arrival, including micro-enterprise development, ethnic community self help, agricultural partnerships, and services for survivors of torture.

Learn more about ORR’s programs and services for refugees, asylees and others.

Please visit the State Department’s website for more information about refugee admissions, including information about the Administration’s plans to assist Syrian refugees.

For anyone who wishes to help resettle refugees:

ORR provides funding and services to states, resettlement agencies and many non-profit community based entities to facilitate the resettlement of newly arriving refugees.  For more information on how to help refugees in your community, please reach out to local organizations in your state.  ORR does not directly accept any donations or provide housing. However, we encourage you to contact a local resettlement agency if you would like to assist or volunteer.

You may also find more information from the State Department’s blog post about Delivering Humanitarian Assistance to Syrians.

Last Reviewed: December 3, 2015