Frequently Asked Questions: Refugee Resettlement

How does the refugee resettlement process work?

What is the security screening process for refugee resettlement?

Security Screening Process Overview

Refugees coming in through the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program must pass through a multi-layered security screening process which includes an in-depth, in-person interview by well-trained Homeland Security officers, multiple highly rigorous background checks, including biographic and biometric investigations, using multiple databases. Review USCRI’s one-pager on the security screening process for refugee resettlement in the U.S.

How do current refugee resettlement processing times compare to those post-9/11?

Prior to 9/11, processing time was about one year; after 9/11, it is a two/three year process.

With regards to H.R. 4038/S. 2300, what would be the impact of this bill?

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said that it “is a bad bill because it seeks to micromanage the process in a way that is counterproductive to national security to our humanitarian obligation and the overall ability to focus on Homeland Security.” FBI Director James Comey was cited in CNN as having deep concerns about the bill and Attorney General Loretta Lynch said at a news briefing held with Director Comey, “To ask me to have my FBI director or other members of the administration make personal guarantees would effectively grind the program to a halt.”

The Administration stated, “The certification requirement at the core of H.R. 4038 is untenable and would provide no meaningful additional security for the American people, instead serving only to create significant delays and obstacles in the fulfillment of a vital program that satisfies both humanitarian and national security objectives. No refugee is approved for travel to the United States under the current system until the full array of required security vetting measures have been completed. Thus, the substantive result sought through this draft legislation is already embedded into the program. The Administration recognizes the importance of a strong, evolving security screening in our refugee admissions program and devotes considerable resources to continually improving the Nation’s robust security screening protocols. The measures called for in this bill would divert resources from these efforts.”

Where can I find data on refugee resettlement in my state and nationwide?

Data on resettlement in the U.S. is available on the Refugee Processing Center website:

Why are certain refugees resettled? Why can’t they stay where they are?

Most refugees want to go home. They usually flee their country thinking it will be a short time until things return to normal. The Syrian crisis is over 4 years old. When refugees cannot go home, many will stay in the country to which they fled. There are over 4 million Syrians in neighboring countries. For some, neither of these options are possible. For less than 1% of refugees worldwide including women and children at-risk; those with complex medical situations, and torture survivors; for these individuals resettlement might be the only option. For refugees who have languished in camps without the right to work and with children denied education, these are the individuals for whom we must stand.

Why is it in America’s national interest to resettle refugees?

The U.S. has always been a beacon of hope for the persecuted.

As President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “as long as there are refugees, we cannot ignore them.” What he said of refugees past is the same of refugees resettled in recent years, “Today they are citizens; many of them own their own homes; some of them own their own businesses; their children are in our schools; and they, as families, are making a full contribution to our national life.” The Refugee Act of 1980 passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and enshrined into law America’s commitment to protect those fleeing persecution. Since then more refugees have been resettled under Republican administrations than Democratic administrations. The 2012 Republican National Platform stated, “To those who stand in the darkness of tyranny, America has always been a beacon of hope, and so it must remain.”

The U.S. will make a statement by our presence or absence.

As the 2010 Council on Foreign Relations Independent Task Force on Immigration Policy stated, the U.S. commitment to protect refugees from persecution “is enshrined in international treaties and domestic U.S. laws that set the standard for the rest of the world; when American standards erode, refugees face greater risks everywhere.”

How can the U.S. make the resettlement process better?

We must increase support and funding for the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program to maintain the integrity of security checks, and enhance integration of refugees. It is a safe, humanitarian and foreign policy operation. For more on USCRI’s solutions please see our testimony to Congress.

Where can I direct constituents who would like to volunteer to assist refugees?

Search by zip code for organizations who help refugees.