Announcements / February 2019

USCRI Refugee Factsheet

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Each year, the Federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) releases a report to Congress, providing an overview of refugee arrivals and outcomes. A summary of the most recent report (from fiscal year 2016) is below.

Where do refugees come from and how many arrive each year?

In FY2016, the U.S. welcomed 84,994 refugees from 78 countries, most commonly the Democratic Republic of Congo (19%), Syria (15%), Burma (15%), and Iraq (12%).

Note from USCRI: The numbers are expected to drop steeply for FY2017 (when roughly 33,000 refugees were admitted), FY2018 (roughly 22,000), and FY2019, due to historically low caps on refugee admissions imposed by the federal government. All admitted refugees are fully vetted for security purposes prior to entry.

Do refugees find jobs in the U.S.?

Refugees work hard to find a job as soon as they arrive, and in fact, they are required to as a condition of entry into the U.S.

Almost 90% of working-age refugees in the U.S. are employed, compared to 92% percent of all U.S. individuals comparably aged. Among all refugees working or seeking work, men are more likely to be employed than women (91 vs 83%).

The average wage attained by refugees is $9.91/hour.

Note from USCRI: Our programs provide job training, ESL classes, employer outreach, and job placement to help refugees secure and maintain employment.

Have they gone to school?

Refugees enter the U.S. with a wide range of prior educational experiences. Refugees aged 25 or older had the following degrees before arriving in the U.S.:

  • 13% had a college or university degree (including medical degrees).
  • 32% completed high school or a had technical degree.
  • 17% completed primary school.
  • 29% arrived in the U.S. with no formal education.

Do they speak English?

When they arrive in the U.S., 44% of refugee adults speak no English, but once here, they learn quickly. After a year and a half, only 17% speak no English. After a few years, almost half speak English well or very well.

The complete ORR Annual Report to Congress can be found here.

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