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Apply for Resettlement in the United States

 

Refugees are eligible for admission to the United States after successful interview and qualification by the Department of Homeland Security.  Eligible individuals must meet the definition of a refugee according to the 1980 Refugee Act:

(A) any person who is outside any country of such person's nationality or, in the case of a person having no nationality, is outside any country in which such person last habitually resided, and who is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country because of persecution or a well founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, or

(B) in such special circumstances as the President after appropriate consultation (as defined in section 207(e) of this Act) may specify, any person who is within the country of such person's nationality or, in the case of a person having no nationality, within the country in which such person is habitually residing, and who is persecuted or who has a well founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.  The term "refugee" does not include any person who ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in the persecution of any person on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.


Refugees must also fall under one of the three Processing Priorities in order to qualify for resettlement in the U.S.  The Processing Priority System ensures that refugees who are of the greatest concern to the U.S. have access to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.    Identification with one of the three categories allows for an interview with an Overseas Processing Entity (OPE) who presents eligible applicants to the Department of Homeland Security for adjudication.   It does not guarantee acceptance to the U.S. for resettlement.  Acceptance into the U.S. resettlement program is further conditioned by the passing of medical exams and security screenings.


 The three processing priorities are as follows:

Priority One: Individual Referrals

Priority one cases are individual refugees referred for U.S. resettlement by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a U.S. Embassy, or non-governmental organization.  In order to be referred to the U.S. program under priority one, refugees may write to the UNHCR (contact the UNHCR headquarters in the U.S. for more information: 202.296.5191) or an U.S. Embassy to present the circumstances of his or her claim and why he or she had to flee his or her country of origin.  The UNHCR or U.S. Embassy will make the determination whether or not to refer the case for an interview for resettlement in the U.S.


Priority Two: Group Referrals

Priority two cases are designated groups identified by the U.S. government as having special humanitarian concern to the United States.  The FY 2010 priority two designated groups are:


Inside country of origin:

 

 

  • Former Soviet Union

  • Cuba

  • Iraqis associated with the U.S.

Outside country of origin:

 

 

  • Ethnic minorities and others from Burma in camps in Thailand

  • Iraqis associated with the U.S.

  • Ethnic minorities and others from Burma in Malaysia

  • Iranian religious minorities

  • Bhutanese in Nepal

  • Eritreans in Shimelba

 

Priority Three: Family Reunification

Spouses, unmarried children and parents of individuals who were previously admitted to the U.S. as refugees or asylees and who fall under the list of designated nationalities are eligible for admission under the P-3 family reunification program.  Refugees falling under this category must first have an Affidavit of Relationship (AOR) filed on their behalf by the “anchor” relative in the U.S.  Additionally anchor relatives must also file an I-730 Follow to Join Petition with the Department of Homeland Security.  Local resettlement programs can assist in the filing of an AOR and I-730. 

On October 22, 2009 the U.S. Department of State stopped accepting new P-3 applications due to reports of fraudulent claims of relationship.  Policies are currently being revised and the P-3 program was expected to begin again in late 2009.

When the P-3 program resumes, processing will be available to individuals of the following nationalities:

  • Afghanistan

  • Cuba

  • Iraq

  • Bhutan

  • Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

  • Somalia

  • Burma

  • Democratic Republic of Congo

  • Sri Lanka

  • Burundi

  • Eritrea

  • Sudan

  • Central African Republic

  • Ethiopia

  • Uzbekistan

  • Columbia

  • Iran

  • Zimbabwe



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