Refugee Resettlement

Resettlement is one of three "durable solutions" for refugees. The vast majority of the world's refugees prefer to return to their home country when conditions allow. Another solution is integration in the country where the refugee has sought initial protection, usually a bordering country. Less than one percent of refugees are ever resettled in a third country; however, resettlement is an important tool of refugee protection, both for individual refugees and as a means of encouraging countries that initially receive refugees to keep their doors open.

Each year, the President, in consultation with Congress, determines the number of refugees who may be admitted to the United States from overseas. The State Department, in cooperation with non-governmental organizations known as "voluntary agencies" (volags), facilitates the legal entry of these refugees to the United States after they have been granted refugee status by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials. These individuals are eligible for U.S. permanent residence and eventually citizenship. In recent years the Administration has established a goal of resettling between 50,000-70,000 refugees each fiscal year. In previous years, however, well over 100,000 refugees were admitted annually.

Funding for the identification and processing of refugees, and for initial services, is provided through the Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA) account administered by the State Department. Additional services to resettled refugees, designed to help them adjust to their new homeland and achieve self-sufficiency, are funded primarily through the Refugee and Entrance Assistance account administered by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within the Department of Health and Human Services.

The refugee admissions and resettlement program is a longstanding public-private partnership, with government funding augmented by the private resources of both faith-based and non-sectarian agencies.


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