About Repatriation

United States Repatriation Program

Through the U.S. Repatriation Program, ORR provides temporary assistance in the form of a service loan to eligible repatriates referred from the U.S. Department of State.

Repatriates are individuals who:

  • Have returned or been brought from a foreign country to the U.S. due to poverty, illness, war or the threat of war
  • Do not have immediate access to available resources to meet their needs

Repatriation Program provide temporary assistance with:

  • Cash payments
  • Medical care
  • Temporary shelter
  • Guidance, counseling, and other welfare services
  • Transportation

Typically, these services are provided for no more than 90 days. Certain temporary assistance may be provided beyond the 90-day period. Extension requests for temporary assistance must be submitted to ORR or its grantee at least two weeks before the 90-day period expires.

All temporary assistance provided under the Repatriation Program is in the form of a loan and must be repaid by the repatriate to the federal government.

  • To receive services, eligible repatriates must sign an HHS repayment agreement form accepting the Repatriation Program loan. These loans are referred to ACF contractor, Program Support Center (PSC), for collection.
  • Repatriates may apply for a waiver or deferral of their loans. For information about waiver requests, please contact ORR grantee at 443-451-1200, or visit their website at http://www.iss-usa.org/.
  • State designated and/or authorized personnel assist in making initial assessments of eligibility for assistance under the U.S. Repatriation Program [see: 45 CFR § 211.3 and §212.3].

Repatriation Program Activities

The Individual Repatriation Activity serves individuals or families in need of assistance upon arrival to the U.S. and is part of the regular/ongoing non-emergency case load. ORR receives referrals from DOS on a regular basis. Eligibility for HHS services is determined by ORR. This program activity is authorized under Section 1113 of the Social Security Act. The regulation is found under 45 CFR 212. States and other providers are to provide repatriation assistance in accordance to program regulation and all manuals, policies and procedures issued by ORR.

The Mentally Ill Activity provides for the care and treatment of eligible legally insane or otherwise mentally ill persons and is part of the regular/ongoing non-emergency case load. Under this activity ORR receives referrals from DOS of individuals in need of assistance upon arrival. Eligibility for HHS services is determined by ORR-authorized staff. This Program activity is authorized under 24 U.S.C. 321. The regulation is found under 45 CFR 211. States and other providers are to provide repatriation assistance in accordance to Program regulation and all manuals, policies and procedures issued by ORR.

The Group Repatriation Activity allows for the evacuation of 50 to 500 U.S. citizens and dependents from overseas to the U.S. due to war, threat of war and other overseas crises (such as natural disasters). ORR may ask the state with the port of entry to assist in providing services to evacuated individuals. The state may or may not be asked to activate its state emergency repatriation plan during group activities. This activity is also authorized by Section 1113 of the Social Security Act. Services are to be provided in accordance with regulations found at 45 CFR 211 & 212 and all manuals, policies and procedures issued by ORR. Guidance is provided within the National Emergency Repatriation Plan, Operational Guide.

The Emergency Repatriation Activity allows for the evacuation of 500 or more U.S. citizens and dependents from overseas to the U.S. due to war, threat or war and other overseas crisis (e.g. natural disasters, etc). Through ORR agreements with the states, states designated as ports of entry will be asked to activate their state emergency repatriation plan during an emergency repatriation.

In consultation with ORR, states are asked to assist with the coordination and provision of temporary services to evacuated individuals. This activity is also authorized by Section 1113 of the Social Security Act and Executive Order (E.O.)12656 . This E.O. was amended by:

Services are to be provided in accordance with regulations found at 45 CFR 211 & 212 and all manuals, policies and procedures issued by ORR based on applicable Federal regulations. States must use the National Emergency Repatriation Plan Operational Guide as a guide to develop their state emergency repatriation plans. Approval of the state plan is made by ORR authorized staff. Revised Plans are to be sent to the Repatriation Program Coordinator. Contact information is below.

Operationally, these four activities involve different kinds of preparation, resources and execution. However, the core program policies and administrative procedures are essentially the same for each.

Referral Process for Non-Emergency Activities

  1. During non-emergency activities, eligible U.S. citizens are referred by DOS to ORR or its grantee, International Social Services, USA (ISS).
  2. Upon receipt of DOS referral, the ORR grantee performs an evaluation of the referred information and refers cases to ORR for eligibility determination.
  3. ISS-USA, in consultation with ORR, performs an assessment of needs and refers the case to the state at the port of entry and/or final destination.
  4. ISS, in collaboration with the states, develops a case management plan for each repatriate.
  5. Through ORR agreements with the states, states assist with the coordination and provision of temporary services to referred repatriates.

State responsibilities include:

  1. Meet and greet the repatriate at the port of entry (POE)
  2. Provide clients with information about the program and services available at the state and local level
  3. Obtain a sign repayment agreement from
  4. Coordinate all necessary services for the repatriate
  5. Provide repatriates with temporary assistance as authorized under program       regulation
  6. Assist repatriate with timely processing and application of available services, such as Medicaid and Food Stamps
  7. Perform periodic reviews to ensure program eligibility
  8. Provide periodic reports and/or case updates to ORR and/or its grantee
  9. Provide information and/or assist repatriate with their requests for extensions, waivers and/or deferrals

Referral Process for Emergency and Group Activities

  1. During emergency and group activities, U.S. citizens, their dependents and others might be evacuated to specified port of entry (POE).
  2. At the POE, the state, in consultation with ORR, will activate its approved state emergency repatriation plan.
  • The plan includes the implementation of an Emergency Repatriation Center (ERC) whose purpose is to process and provide services to eligible repatriates.
  1. Some repatriates may not arrive to the ERC because of immediate transport to the nearest hospital due to emergency conditions. Others are held by appropriate agencies due to various circumstances, such as criminal background.
  2. States asked to activate their plans and/or provide support during group repatriation may be asked to help with the initial assessment for ORR designated staff approval of eligibility.
  3. Needed services will be provided by the state agencies at the ERCs, unless a person needs to be referred to a hospital where assigned state staff will perform key follow-ups.
  4. During an emergency and group repatriation, only those individuals eligible for repatriation assistance and willing to accept a repatriation loan will be referred to the state of final destination for up to 90 days of Program services.
  5. Referral is made from authorized state and/or ORR staff at the ERC to ORR grantee, ISS-USA.
  6. ISS will then refer the case to appropriate state of final destination.
  7. If the eligible individual is to remain at the state where the ERC is located, the ORR authorized staff can make the referral to that state non-emergency coordinator directly. However, a copy of the referral must be also sent to ISS-USA for appropriate filling and follow-up.

States should not provide repatriates with repatriation assistance if a referral is NOT received from ORR and/or its grantee. If a person contacts or arrives to a state agency requesting repatriation assistance but no referral was sent to the state, the state must contact the ORR grantee to confirm eligibility and to obtain a referral prior to providing services. States may contact ISS-USA at 443-451-1200.

During Emergency Repatriation:
In the event of a massive evacuation from overseas, HHS/ACF/ORR is the lead federal agency responsible for coordinating the national response and services that need to be provided to eligible repatriates and others.

  • ACF/ORR holds agreements with all the states and some territories to assist ACF/ORR with the operational responsibility during emergencies.
  • States are to develop State Emergency Repatriation Plans in accordance with guidance provided within the National Emergency Repatriation Plan, Operational Guide. State plans need to be reviewed and approved by authorized ORR staff.
  • Upon DOS formal notification of an eminent evacuation of U.S. citizens, ORR authorized staff will send an activation notice to designated State Emergency Repatriation Coordinator and the Governor’s office.
  • Upon notice, states are to activate and implement their plans. ORR authorized staff will be present at the ERC to provide Federal oversight and support.

2006 Lebanon Emergency Repatriation Effort
From July 19 to August 2, 2006, ORR offered social services to over 12,400 U.S. citizens and others returning to the U.S. from Lebanon, due to the international conflict between Lebanon and Israel. ORR mobilized personnel from the federal government, state agencies, and non-profit social service agencies, to be on site at four major airports to meet incoming Americans from Lebanon, and to ensure their safe and expeditious processing. During the 17-day operation, HHS/ACF/ORR and its partners offered services to incoming citizens and their dependents arriving on 61 different flights. This successful emergency operation effort resulted in the second largest repatriation of U.S. citizens since World War II.

2010 Haiti Emergency Repatriation Effort
From Jan. 14 to Feb. 19, 2010, ORR embarked on one of the most complex emergency evacuation responses in recent U.S. history. On Jan. 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti, resulting in massive injuries and loss of human life, as well as damage of social infrastructure. Immediately, the Department of State (DOS) and other federal agencies began to evacuate U.S. citizens from the danger zone to the Dominican Republic to the U.S. DOS estimated that 45,000 U.S. citizens were in Haiti when the earthquake hit.

In the U.S., ORR coordinated with the states of New Jersey, South Carolina, Florida, Maryland and other federal and non-federal partners the reception and provision of temporary services to eligible citizens returning to the U.S. during the 38-day operation, over 28,000 individuals were evacuated from Haiti – the vast majority were American citizens.

From this number, about 16,700 citizens were evacuated by DOS by using the Department of Defense’s military planes. Of these, roughly 7,800 American citizens received HHS temporary assistance, such as payments for onward travel to final destinations, cash loans, clothing, lodging, children services and medical care. These individuals arrived on 835 flights into seven authorized Emergency Repatriation Centers (ERC) at military and international airports.

Repatriation Program Grantee
International Social Services - USA Branch

Contact Information
Office of Refugee Resettlement
Administration for Children and Families
901 D Street, SW
Washington, DC 20447
Phone: 202.401.9246
Fax: 202.401.5487