Proposed Refugee Admissions
For Fiscal Year 2022
Report to the Congress
Submitted on behalf of
THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
COMMITTEES ON THE JUDICIARY
UNITED STATES SENATE
UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
in fulfillment of the requirements of
sections 207(d)(1) AND (e)
Immigration and Nationality Act
United States Department of State
United States Department of Homeland Security
United States Department of Health and Human Services
Table of Contents
OVERVIEW OF U.S. REFUGEE POLICY
PROPOSED CEILINGS FOR FY 2022
DHS/USCIS REFUGEE ADJUDICATIONS
PROCESSING ACTIVITIES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE
OFFICE OF REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT (ORR)
REGIONAL REFUGEE ADMISSIONS
Europe and Central Asia
Latin America and The Caribbean
Near East and South Asia
International Religious Freedom Act/North Korean Human Rights Act Reporting
FY 2020 Countries of Particular Concern
North Korean Human Rights Act
DOMESTIC REFUGEE ADMISSIONS
ADMISSIONS TABLES AND STATISTICS
List of Tables
Projected Refugee Admissions for FY 2021 and Proposed Refugee Admissions for FY 2022 by Region
Proposed FY 2022 Regional Ceilings by Priority
USRAP Projected Arrivals by Region, FY2021
USRAP Admissions, FY 2020
USRAP Admissions by Country of Origin, FY 2020
Median Age and Gender of Refugee Arrivals, FY 2020
Select Age Categories of Refugee Arrivals, FY 2020
Refugee Arrivals by State of Initial Resettlement, FY 2020
Estimated Funding of Refugee Processing, Movement, and Resettlement FY 2021 and FY 2022
UNHCR Resettlement Statistics by Resettlement Country, CY 2020
This Proposed Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2022 Report to the Congress is submitted in compliance with Sections 207(d)(1) and (e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). This report provides the following information required by those sections:
- A description of the nature of the refugee situation;
- A description of the number and allocation of the refugees to be admitted, and an analysis of conditions within the countries from which they came;
- A description of the plans for their movement and resettlement and the estimated cost of their movement and resettlement;
- An analysis of the anticipated social, economic, and demographic impact of their admission to the United States;
- A description of the extent to which other countries will admit and assist in the resettlement of such refugees;
- An analysis of the impact of the participation of the United States in the resettlement of such refugees on the foreign policy interests of the United States; and
- Such additional information as may be appropriate or requested by such members.
This report also contains information as required by Section 602(d) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-292, October 27, 1998, 112 Stat. 2787) (IRFA), as amended, about religious persecution of refugee populations eligible for consideration for admission to the United States.
This report also meets the reporting requirements of Section 305(b) of the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-333, October 18, 2004, 118 Stat. 1287), as amended, by providing information about specific measures taken to facilitate access to the United States refugee admissions program for individuals who have fled “countries of particular concern” for violations of religious freedoms, identified pursuant to Section 402(b) of the IRFA.
A robust refugee admissions program is critical to U.S. foreign policy interests and national security objectives, and it is a touchstone of the Administration’s commitment to rebuilding a safe, orderly, humane and lawful migration system. Refugee resettlement is among the most visible manifestations of a values-based foreign policy, demonstrating American humanitarian leadership. It is also a concrete reflection of the United States’ commitment to human rights, including freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression, and is necessary to mobilize other countries to meet their own humanitarian obligations. It is a showing of solidarity with refugees and the countries hosting them, providing a beacon of hope for persecuted people around the world. The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) fosters multilateral cooperation among U.S. government agencies, U.S. states and localities, private resettlement partners, foreign governments, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Under the authority of the Migration and Refugee Assistance Act of 1962, as amended, the United States contributes to the programs of UNHCR, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), IOM, and other international organizations that provide protection and assistance to refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), victims of conflict, stateless persons, and other vulnerable migrants. These contributions are used to address the legal and physical protection needs of refugees and to furnish basic assistance such as water, sanitation, food, health care, shelter, education, and other services. The United States monitors these programs to ensure the most effective use of resources, maximizing humanitarian impact for the beneficiaries.
Refugee resettlement complements those efforts, providing critical protection for the most vulnerable refugees. The United States recognizes that resettlement in third countries is a vital tool for providing a durable solution for refugees, particularly those who cannot return safely to their country of origin or integrate into local communities in a country of first asylum. For some refugees, resettlement is the safest, and perhaps the only, alternative. Alongside robust humanitarian aid and diplomacy, resettlement helps promote stability in regions experiencing crisis, demonstrates U.S. responsibility-sharing with affected countries, and enables the U.S. to negotiate additional humanitarian outcomes such as access to legal work, education, and legal status for the vast majority of refugees who remain in countries of first asylum and will never be resettled. For example, by resettling stateless refugees through the USRAP, the U.S. government encourages other countries to do more to help stateless people and prevent new stateless populations, including by implementing universal birth registration. Stateless refugees who arrive in the United States for resettlement not only find a durable solution to their displacement but are also placed on a path that will afford the opportunity to naturalize and resolve their stateless status.
The United States has long been a global leader in refugee resettlement. The USRAP reflects our tradition as a nation that has long welcomed immigrants and refugees. It is an important, enduring, and ongoing expression of our commitment to international humanitarian principles and provides a powerful counter-narrative to anti-American sentiment abroad.
The number of forcibly displaced people worldwide is unprecedented and continues to climb, including over 20 million refugees under UNHCR’s mandate. New political violence, intensifying humanitarian crises, climate change-induced displacement, and increased threats to refugees in countries of asylum all support a need to increase refugee admissions to the United States and among our global resettlement partners. The President’s Emergency Determination of May 3, 2021, raised the ceiling from a historic low of 15,000 to 62,500, both reflecting the urgent need to respond to the growing and urgent humanitarian crises, and restoring the United States’ global humanitarian leadership.
Notably, resettlement also provides refuge to foreign nationals who risk their lives to assist U.S. military and diplomatic efforts overseas. Providing humanitarian protection to those who contributed to U.S. missions abroad advances national security, helps ensure the safety of U.S. government personnel in conflict zones, and signals to current and future allies that the U.S. is a credible and reliable partner. Importantly, it is a tool by which the United States can recognize and repay the life-saving service of those who helped advance, at great risk to themselves, U.S. interests in key regions of the world.
Despite urgently undertaken initiatives to rebuild and expand the USRAP and to address the many challenges posed by COVID-19, as we near the end of FY 2021, we anticipate that arrivals in FY 2021 will fall far short of the 62,500 target established by President Biden on May 3, 2021. The Biden Administration will redouble efforts in FY 2022 to restore the USRAP and put it on stable ground to meet the longer-term global objectives described above
The USRAP in FY 2022: Plans to Rebuild, Amidst Operational Challenges
The Biden Administration has prioritized rebuilding the USRAP through strengthening its global infrastructure to welcome significantly greater numbers of refugees and through modernizing the program to be responsive to evolving demands and opportunities. This section highlights the priority objectives and innovations planned for FY 2022.
In FY 2022, the Administration plans to increase the USRAP target with a particular focus on several key populations and programs: expanded resettlement of Central Americans; enhanced access to the USRAP for Afghans at risk due to their affiliation with the United States; increased resettlement of LGBTQI+ refugees; priority access for at-risk Uyghurs, Hong Kong refugees, and Burmese dissidents; and resettlement of Burmese Rohingya.
Executive Order 14013 (on Rebuilding and Enhancing Programs to Resettle Refugees and Planning for the Impact of Climate Change on Migration) has instructed a series of bold reforms and initiatives for the USRAP.. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) aims to increase staffing significantly, upscale in-person circuit rides and refugee video interviews, identify current bottlenecks, and implement process improvements to its adjudicatory processes. The USRAP will leverage technological solutions to strengthen data-driven decision-making and streamline refugee processing with the deployment of START and Global, the Department of State and USCIS’s respective new refugee applicant case management systems, while enhancing the security of all of our refugee processing systems.
Executive Order 14013 and the Presidential Memorandum on the rights of LGBTQI+ persons both recognize the precarious and often dangerous circumstances faced by this group and call for expanding resettlement solutions for LGBTQI+ persons and ensuring the USRAP operates in an efficient and dignified manner for all. While LGBTQI+ individuals are already prioritized for referrals to the USRAP, PRM is working with partners to expand access for eligible LGBTQI+ refugees, including through greater use of NGO referrals and a private sponsorship pilot program.
Recognizing that successful refugee resettlement would not be possible without active engagement of communities into which refugees arrive, the Administration is also increasing support for community sponsorship. First, it will incentivize greater use of existing co-sponsorship models among domestic resettlement agencies. Second, a major initiative in FY 2022 will be the implementation of a private sponsorship pilot program, whereby community members will take on the primary responsibility of welcoming and providing initial support to newly arrived refugees, helping facilitate their successful integration.
Another priority for FY 2022 is to rebuild and expand capacity of domestic partners to welcome and support refugee arrivals. The Administration will pursue a variety of funding initiatives and program strategies to create a more resilient and flexible reception and placement program. The Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) will work with domestic resettlement agencies, State Refugee Coordinators (SRCs), and other stakeholders to ensure that the national network of resettlement providers is well positioned to welcome expected refugee arrivals in FY 2022.
The Administration also intends to maintain and improve USRAP security and integrity while transforming the USRAP into a more efficient and just program. Any enhancements to security screening for refugee applicants will continue to meet the rigorous standards already in place to ensure the safety and security of the American people. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State are actively working with security vetting partners to ensure vetting procedures are effective, fair, and complemented by appropriate fraud detection measures for all USRAP applicants. They will work to provide USRAP overseas and domestic partners with sufficient guidance and oversight while also ensuring safeguards are in place to prevent potential staff fraud and malfeasance. This includes increasing anti-fraud efforts and staffing across agencies, for all Priority and in-country programs.
Ensuring resettlement remains an available durable solution for those most in need cannot be achieved by the United States alone. Through robust and sustained humanitarian diplomacy, the United States will exert international leadership by pressing other countries to increase their own commitments and leveraging resettlement to achieve additional humanitarian outcomes in refugee contexts around the globe. It will continue to encourage UNHCR to similarly prioritize and advance this form of protection, elevating this function within its own organization and mobilizing resettlement countries to step up their respective efforts. This fiscal year, the United States will act as the Chair of the Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement (ATCR), co-chair the Priority Situations Core Group, and participate in other multilateral fora that advance common resettlement objectives in FY 2022, with the aim of expanding resettlement opportunities among existing and new resettlement countries globally.
COVID-19 Pandemic Impacts: As a result of the global pandemic, many aspects of USRAP processing ground to a halt or were severely impacted in FY 2020-2021, which dramatically slowed the rate of refugee resettlement. Although the situation has improved in most locations, progress is uneven and not linear. USRAP travel was suspended from March through July 2020, and, as a result, only 493 refugees traveled on emergency cases from March 19 until July 29 of that year.
The screening and interview process has also been severely impacted. Throughout the initial phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, many PRM-funded partners were unable to perform in-person functions required to conduct pre-screening interviews. USCIS halted circuit rides in March 2020, and only a handful of in-person circuit rides have been conducted since then. In certain regions, USCIS has been able to implement video teleconference (V-TEL) interviews. However, V-TEL interviews, even on a significantly larger scale, will not be a viable replacement to in-person USCIS circuit rides, which are more efficient and will be vital to achieving 125,000 refugee arrivals in FY 2022.
There are approximately 90,000 refugees in the USRAP pipeline who have completed initial pre-screening but who are still awaiting a USCIS interview. As of September 11, 2021, there have been 5,810 USCIS interviews in the fourth quarter of FY 2021, with increases anticipated in subsequent quarters, pandemic conditions permitting. It is unclear whether the COVID-19 Delta variant will impact the ability to conduct the large number of refugee applicant interviews necessary to achieve significantly higher admission numbers.
Additionally, vaccination availability in many of the countries where USRAP processing occurs remains low, with many refugees and local national Resettlement Support Center (RSC) staff remaining unvaccinated. The lack of progress on controlling the pandemic globally continues to affect the ability of RSC and U.S. government staff to process large numbers of refugees safely and will undoubtedly impact activity into FY 2022.
Beyond COVID-19, the USRAP continues to be impacted by the restrictive allocations, lower overall arrivals, and decreased USRAP partner staffing and resources during the last Administration. Significant additional investments in staffing and infrastructure in early FY 2022 will be necessary to build the foundation for higher numbers in subsequent years. This includes continuing to fill vacant positions in the Department of State’s PRM Admissions Office and within the USCIS refugee corps; providing further significant resettlement funding to and engagement with UNHCR to support dramatically expanded referrals to USRAP; increasing funding for IOM and PRM’s RSC, including for additional staff; continuing to rebuild PRM and ORR’s domestic capacity to welcome and integrate refugees; completing deployment of PRM’s START and USCIS’ Global case management systems; successfully incorporating refugee vetting into the National Vetting Center (NVC); increasing staffing and automation for refugee security vetting; and significantly increasing USCIS’ interviewing capacity and adjudication efficiency.
The U.S. government will make every effort to reach the target established by the President following consultations with Congress. In the immediate term, in the interest of careful stewardship of taxpayer resources and taking into account current USRAP capacity and ongoing operational constraints related to COVID-19, PRM intends to fund USRAP domestic and overseas implementing partners at an initial operating level to support 65,000 arrivals at the beginning of FY 2022. Those funding levels will be re-evaluated and increased as appropriate as the year progresses and as it becomes clearer how much progress can be made against the target.
The FY 2022 President’s Budget Request included additional resources for USCIS for refugee processing, as USCIS will need to more than double the number of staff supporting refugee admissions in order to build the pipeline of interviewed and approved applicants. USCIS is making every effort to increase staffing as early as possible in FY 2022, funding permitting. Given the time between interview and admission to the United States for approved applicants, a significant number of refugee applicants approved as a result of increased staffing for USCIS may not arrive until FY 2023. Early and sustained infusion of additional resources is necessary to rebuild a healthy pipeline to sustain higher admission numbers not only for FY 2022, but for years to come.
Who is a Refugee?
Under Section 101(a)(42) of the INA, a refugee is a person who, generally, has experienced past persecution or has a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Individuals who meet the statutory definition may be considered for either refugee status under Section 207 of the INA if they are outside the United States, or asylum status under Section 208 of the INA, if they are already in the United States or present themselves at a U.S. port of entry. Both refugee and asylum status are forms of humanitarian protection offered by the United States.
Additionally, under INA §101(a)(42)(B), the President may specify circumstances under which individuals who are within their countries of nationality or last habitual residence may be considered a refugee for purposes of admission to the United States. Persons for whom resettlement is requested by a U.S. ambassador in any location in the world may also be considered, with the understanding that those within their countries of nationality or last habitual residence will only be referred to the USRAP following Department of State consultation with USCIS at DHS. Likewise, the U.S. will consider accepting a limited number of referrals from qualified NGOs of highly vulnerable individuals within their countries of nationality or last habitual residence following Department of State consultation with USCIS.
Individuals outside the United States seeking admission as a refugee under Section 207 of the INA are processed through the USRAP, which is managed by the Department of State in cooperation with DHS and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Those admitted as refugees are eligible for U.S. government-funded resettlement assistance, which is discussed below in the Office of Refugee Resettlement section. Individuals in the United States seeking asylum status under Section 208 of the INA are processed by DHS and, in certain cases, by the Department of Justice (DOJ)’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR, also known as the immigration court system). Asylum applicants are not eligible for resettlement assistance through USRAP but are eligible for certain other forms of assistance and services run by state, private, and non-profit agencies, and they may apply for discretionary employment authorization under certain conditions.
Since the passage of the Refugee Act in 1980, which incorporated this definition of refugee into the INA, the United States has welcomed more than 3.8 million refugees and asylees.
The proposed FY 2022 allocations are based on refugee resettlement needs and humanitarian policy priorities. Areas of particular focus in FY 2022 include higher expected arrivals of Afghan refugees with the recent P-2 designation and providing more safe and legal pathways, including resettlement, for vulnerable individuals in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. More detail about each region is below in the Regional and Refugee Admissions section. Furthermore, the Secretary of State, upon notification to the Judiciary Committees of the Congress, would be authorized to transfer unused admissions allocated to a particular category to one or more other categories, if there is a need for greater admissions for the category or categories to which the admissions are being transferred.
This proposal includes 10,000 unallocated admissions numbers to be used if needed for additional refugee admissions from any region. The unallocated numbers would only be used following notification to Congress.
PRM is responsible for coordinating and managing the USRAP. A critical part of this responsibility is determining which individuals or groups from among the millions of refugees worldwide will have access to the USRAP. PRM coordinates within the Department of State, as well as with USCIS and other agencies, in carrying out this responsibility.
Section 207(a)(3) of the INA states that the USRAP shall allocate admissions among refugees “of special humanitarian concern to the United States in accordance with a determination made by the President after appropriate consultation.” Which individuals are “of special humanitarian concern” to the United States for the purpose of refugee resettlement consideration is determined through the USRAP priority system. There will be four priorities in FY 2022.
Priority 1: Individual cases referred by designated entities to the program by virtue of their circumstances and apparent need for resettlement.
Priority 2: Groups of special concern designated by the Department of State as having access to the program by virtue of their circumstances and apparent need for resettlement.
Priority 3: Individual cases from designated nationalities granted access for purposes of reunification with family members already in the United States.
Priority 4: Individual cases from all nationalities who have been sponsored by individuals in the United States, and who receive some post-arrival benefits or service from those sponsors.
(Note: Refugees resettled in the United States may also seek the admission of spouses and unmarried children under 21 who are still abroad by filing a “following-to-join” petition, which does not require a separate refugee adjudication for these family members. This option is described in more detail in the discussion of following-to-join cases below.)
Access to the USRAP under one of the above-listed processing priorities does not necessarily mean an applicant meets the statutory definition of a “refugee” or is admissible to the United States under the INA. Applicants who are eligible for access to the USRAP within the established priorities are presented to USCIS officers for interview and adjudication. The ultimate determination as to whether an applicant can be admitted as a refugee is made by USCIS in accordance with criteria set forth in the INA and various security protocols.
Although the access categories to the USRAP are referred to as “processing priorities,” it is important to note that entering the program under a certain priority does not establish precedence in the order in which cases will be processed or the likelihood of success of the claim. Once cases are established as eligible for access under one of the processing priorities, they all undergo the same processing steps.
Priority 1 (P-1) – Individual Referrals
Priority 1 (P-1) allows the USRAP to consider refugee claims from persons of any or no nationality, usually with compelling protection needs, for whom resettlement appears to be the appropriate durable solution. P-1 cases are identified and referred to the program by UNHCR, a U.S. embassy, or a designated NGO.
UNHCR, which has the international mandate to provide protection to refugees worldwide, has historically referred the vast majority of cases to the United States under this priority. Embassies may also make a P-1 referral, and are encouraged to do so. A U.S. ambassador may make a P-1 referral for persons still in their country of origin if the ambassador determines that such persons are in need of exceptional treatment and PRM and USCIS concur.
PRM has designated some NGOs that assist refugees as eligible to provide P-1 referrals directly to PRM. As directed in Executive Order 14013, PRM is working to expand NGO referrals to the USRAP, in order to provide greater access to refugees in need of resettlement.
Priority 2 (P-2) – Group Referrals
Priority 2 (P-2) includes specific groups whose members are in need of resettlement as identified by the Department of State in consultation with USCIS, NGOs, UNHCR, and other experts. P-2 designations reflect that a group is of special humanitarian concern to the United States and that individual members of the group will likely qualify for admission as refugees under U.S. law.
There are two distinct models of P-2 access to the program: predefined group access and direct access. Under both models, P-2 designations are made based on shared characteristics that define the group. In general, these characteristics are the reason that members of the group have been persecuted or have a well-founded fear of persecution in the future.
A predefined group designation is usually based on a UNHCR recommendation that lays out eligibility criteria for individuals in a specific location. In recent years, predefined groups have included certain Burmese in Thailand, certain Bhutanese in Nepal, and certain Congolese in Tanzania and Rwanda. In August 2021, PRM announced a P-2 designation for certain Afghan nationals and their eligible family members.
Once PRM, in consultation with USCIS, establishes the access eligibility criteria for the group, the referring entity (usually UNHCR) provides the biographical data of eligible refugee applicants for processing. This type of group enables efficient processing because it identifies groups of people with very similar persecution claims, can prevent labor-intensive individual referrals, and prevents delays to applicants.
In special circumstances, the direct access model for P-2 group referrals enables individuals to apply for access to the program based on meeting designated criteria. The direct access model has operated largely for in-country programs, historically including refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cuba, Eurasia and the Baltics, Iraq, and Vietnam. To establish a direct access P-2 group, PRM, in consultation with USCIS, defines the specific criteria and procedures for access. Applicants may then apply according to that process. Applicants who clearly do not meet the access requirements do not proceed to USCIS interviews.
Once an individual gains access to processing via a P-2 designation, all other processing steps are the same as for those referred by P-1, including individual pre-screening and USCIS interviews, and all security and medical checks.
IN-COUNTRY PROCESSING PROGRAMS
P-1 UNHCR referrals inside their country of origin:
Persons in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras: In El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras UNHCR refers to the USRAP cases of vulnerable individuals identified by a consortium of NGOs. Cases with the most extreme protection needs may be transferred to Costa Rica for refugee processing under a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Costa Rica, UNHCR, and IOM; all other cases are eligible for in-country processing for resettlement to the United States.
Direct Access P-2s inside their country of origin:
Lautenberg Program for Certain Members of Religious Minority Groups in Eurasia and the Baltics: This group includes Jews, Evangelical Christians, and Ukrainian Catholic and Orthodox religious adherents identified in the Lautenberg Amendment, Section 599D of Title V, P.L. 101-167, as amended (the Lautenberg Amendment), with close family in the United States. With annual statutory renewal of the Lautenberg Amendment, these individuals are considered under a reduced evidentiary standard for establishing a well-founded fear of persecution.
Certain Iraqis Associated with the United States: Under various P-2 designations, including those set forth in Section 1243(a) of the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act of 2007, Title XII, Div. A, P. L. 110-181, as amended, employees of the U.S. government, a U.S. government-funded contractor or grantee, U.S. media or U.S. NGOs working in Iraq, and certain family members of such employees, as well as beneficiaries of approved I-130 petitions for immigrant visas, are eligible for refugee processing in Iraq. This program is temporarily suspended.
Persons in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras: The P-2 designated Central American Minors (CAM) program allows certain parents lawfully present in the United States to request access to the USRAP for their unmarried child(ren) under the age of 21. In some instances, other in-country relatives may be eligible when accompanying the qualifying child.
An expansion of eligibility for those who can request access to the CAM was announced on June 15, 2021. Implementation began in September 2021, at which point eligibility is extended to include legal guardians (in addition to parents) who are in the United States pursuant to any of the following qualifying categories: lawful permanent residence; temporary protected status; parole; deferred action; deferred enforced departure; or withholding of removal. The expansion of eligibility will also include certain U.S.-based parents or legal guardians who have a pending asylum application or a pending U visa petition filed before May 15, 2021.
Certain Persons in Cuba: Included in this Cuba P-2 program are human rights activists, members of persecuted religious minorities, former political prisoners, forced-labor conscripts, and persons deprived of their professional credentials or subjected to other disproportionately harsh or discriminatory treatment resulting from their perceived or actual political or religious beliefs. As of September 2021, this program remains suspended.
GROUPS OF HUMANITARIAN CONCERN OUTSIDE THEIR COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
Pre-defined Group Access P-2s:
Ethnic Minorities and Others from Burma in Camps in Thailand: Under this P-2 designation, individuals who fled Burma, were registered in one of nine refugee camps along the Thai/Burma border, were identified by UNHCR as in need of resettlement, and expressed interest in third-country resettlement prior to January 2014 (depending on the location), are eligible for processing.
Ethnic Minorities from Burma in Malaysia: Under this P-2 designation, members of ethnic minorities from Burma who were recognized by UNHCR as refugees in Malaysia, registered by August 17, 2010, and identified as being in need of resettlement, are eligible for resettlement consideration.
Congolese in Rwanda: Certain Congolese refugees in Rwanda who arrived between 1994 and 2005, were verifiably registered by UNHCR in 2011 or 2012, and identified as in need of resettlement, are eligible for processing.
Congolese in Tanzania: Certain Congolese refugees registered by UNHCR, whose residence in Nyarugusu camp was confirmed in a 2013-2014 UNHCR verification exercise, are eligible for processing.
Afghan nationals: Under this new P-2 designation, individuals who fall into the below three categories are eligible for processing:
- Afghans who do not meet the minimum time-in-service for a Special Immigrant Visa but who work/worked as employees of contractors*, Locally Employed Staff, interpreters/translators for the U.S. Government, United States Forces Afghanistan, International Security Assistance Force, or Resolute Support;
- Afghans who work/worked for a U.S. government-funded program or project in Afghanistan supported through a U.S. government grant or cooperative agreement*;
- Afghans who are/were employed in Afghanistan by a U.S.-based media organization or non-governmental organization. U.S.-based media organizations may also refer Afghan nationals who worked for them under stringer, freelance, and comparable arrangements.
*Note: Afghans who work/worked for sub-contractors and sub-grantees do not qualify for the P-2 designation, though they may qualify for P-1 referrals.
Direct Access Model P-2s:
Lautenberg Program for Certain Members of Religious Minority Groups in Iran: Iranian members of certain religious minorities are eligible for processing and are considered under a reduced evidentiary standard for establishing a well-founded fear of persecution pursuant to the annual renewal of the Lautenberg Amendment, as amended in 2004 by Section 213 of Title II, Division E, of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2004, P.L. 108-199. 118 Stat. 3 (“the Specter Amendment”).
Certain Iraqis Associated with the United States: Under various P-2 designations, including those set forth in Section 1243(a) of the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act of 2007, Title XII, Div. A, P. L. 110-181, as amended, employees of the U.S. government, a U.S. government-funded contractor or grantee, U.S. media, or U.S. NGOs working in Iraq, and certain family members of such employees, as well as beneficiaries of approved I-130 petitions for immigrant visas, are eligible for refugee processing in several countries in the region, including Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon, in addition to the in-country program in Iraq. This program is temporarily suspended.
Syrian Beneficiaries of Approved I-130 petitions: Under this P-2 designation, Syrian beneficiaries of approved I-130 immigrant visa petitions for whom immigrant visas have not yet been issued, are eligible for refugee processing.
OTHER POPULATIONS FOR PRIORITY CONSIDERATION
In addition, the following populations have been determined priorities in FY 2022:
- Turkic Muslim refugees who are nationals or last habitual residents of China;
- Refugees who are activists, journalists, and political dissidents and who are permanent residents of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region, or who last habitually resided therein;
- Rohingya Muslim refugees who are nationals or last habitual residents of Burma;
- Individuals persecuted on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or sex characteristics; and
- Iraqi and Syrian nationals who are members of a religious or ethnic minority.
PRM will undertake efforts in FY 2022 to enhance and expand access opportunities for the individuals in the above populations to USRAP in FY 2022, including through expanding NGO referrals and encouraging greater use of Embassy referrals.
Priority 3 (P-3) – Family Reunification
P-3 provides USRAP access to individuals of special humanitarian concern who have immediate family members in the United States who were admitted in certain humanitarian immigrant statuses. The immediate family members in the United States can initiate an application for their relatives even if they subsequently gained lawful permanent resident status or naturalized as U.S. citizens. Parents, spouses, and unmarried children under the age of 21 of the U.S.-based relative can benefit from P-3 referrals.
To qualify for access under the P-3 program, an applicant must generally be outside of their country of origin, be registered or have legal status in the country of asylum, have had an Affidavit of Relationship (AOR) filed on their behalf by an eligible family member in the United States during a period in which the nationality was included on the eligibility list, and have been cleared for onward processing by USCIS.
PRM designates which U.S.-based relatives can initiate P-3 processing based on their admission status. For FY 2022, AOR filers can include those admitted as asylees, refugees, or Afghan and Iraqi special immigrants (admitted under Section 1059 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006 (P.L. 109-163; 8 U.S.C. 1101 note), Section 1244 of the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act of 2007 (8 U.S.C. 1157 note), and Section 602 of the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009 (8 U.S.C. 1101 note)). This includes persons who are lawful permanent residents of the United States or U.S. citizens who initially were admitted to the United States in the designated status. The U.S.-based filer must be at least 18 years of age at the time the AOR is filed. The filer must file the AOR within five years of the date they were admitted as an asylee, refugee, or special immigrant and the USRAP may reject any AOR for a relationship that does not comport with U.S. law, such as under-age or plural marriages.
The USRAP recognizes that many refugee families face legal and practical obstacles to legal marriage or marriage registration. The United States will allow a qualifying individual to file for P-3 access for a partner of any gender if the filer can provide evidence of a relationship with the partner for at least one year overseas prior to the submission of the AOR and considers that person to be his/her spouse or life partner, and that the relationship is ongoing, together with evidence that legal marriage could not be obtained due to social and/or legal prohibitions.
In addition to the qualifying family members of a U.S.-based individual identified above, the qualifying family member’s spouse and unmarried children under 21 may derive refugee status from the qualifying family member.
On a case-by-case basis, an individual may be added to a qualifying family member’s P-3 case if that individual:
- Lived in the same household as the qualifying family member in the country of nationality or, if stateless, last habitual residence; AND
- Was part of the same economic unit as the qualifying family member in the country of nationality or, if stateless, last habitual residence; AND
- Demonstrates exceptional and compelling humanitarian circumstances that justify inclusion on the qualifying family member’s case.
These individuals are not “spouses” or “children”, under INA Section 207(c)(2)(A) and thus cannot derive their refugee status from the Principal Applicant. They must, therefore, independently establish that they qualify as a refugee.
Because of the importance of reuniting immediate refugee families who have been separated while fleeing from persecution, this report proposes to continue to make P-3 processing available to individuals of all nationalities, including stateless individuals.
Priority 4 (P-4) – Privately sponsored refugees
The Department of State, in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services, is developing a private sponsorship pilot program that it anticipates launching in early 2022. A Priority 4 (P-4) category will be linked to the pilot program and cover refugees supported by private sponsors who accept primary responsibility for funding and providing core resettlement services. The private sponsorship pilot program will include a matching component and an identification component.
Under the matching component, private sponsors will be matched with refugees who already have access to USRAP through another priority category. Upon approval for resettlement, these refugees would be re-assigned to the P-4 category to distinguish them from the typical P-1, P-2, and P-3 categories. Under the identification component, private sponsors who meet certain criteria will be permitted to identify and refer refugees to the P-4 category and apply to sponsor their resettlement.
Following-to-Join Family Reunification Petitions
Under 8 U.S.C. Section 207(c)(2), a principal refugee admitted to the United States may request following-to-join benefits for his or her spouse and/or unmarried children under the age of 21 who were not previously granted refugee status. Once in the United States, and within two years of admission, the refugee may file a Form I-730 Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition with USCIS for each eligible family member. If the Form I-730 petition for a beneficiary residing abroad is approved or transferred by USCIS’ Service Center Operations Directorate, preliminarily or finally, (signifying adequate proof of eligibility based on a file review), the Department of State’s National Visa Center forwards the petition to the USCIS office, embassy, or consulate nearest to the location of the beneficiary for adjudication or travel eligibility determination.
Individuals who gain access to the USRAP through the Form I-730 petition are interviewed by USCIS or consular officers to verify the relationships claimed in the petition, as well as to examine any applicable bars to status and admissibility to the United States. Beneficiaries are not required to establish past persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution, as they derive their status from the refugee relative in the United States who filed the petition. Beneficiaries of I-730 petitions may be processed within their country of origin or in other locations.
Certain relatives in the United States may file an I-730 Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition and seek P-3 access for their qualifying family members (if eligible) simultaneously. In some cases, the I-730 petition will be the only option as the family members are still in their country of origin. It is also important to note that unlike the P-3 process, the I-730 or following-to-join process does not allow the relative in the United States to petition for parents.
Section 207(c) of the INA grants the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security authority to admit, at his or her discretion, any refugee who is not firmly resettled in a third country, who is determined to be of special humanitarian concern, and who is admissible to the United States. The authority to determine eligibility for refugee status has been delegated to USCIS. USCIS also devotes substantial resources to security vetting, anti-fraud, and training related to refugee processing, and it has strong partnerships with the law enforcement, national security, and intelligence communities to maintain and promote the integrity of the USRAP.
The Eligibility Determination
In order to be approved for classification as a refugee, an applicant must meet the refugee definition contained in Section 101(a)(42) of the INA. That section provides that a refugee is a person who is outside his or her country of nationality or, if stateless, last habitual residence and is unable or unwilling to return to 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. As mentioned above, the President may specify special circumstances under which a person can meet the refugee definition when he or she is still within his or her country of origin or, if stateless, last habitual residence. The refugee definition excludes a person who has ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Further, an applicant who has been “firmly resettled” in a third country may not be admitted as a refugee under INA Section 207. Applicants are also subject to various statutory grounds of inadmissibility, including criminal, security, and public health grounds, some of which may be waived or from which applicants may be exempted. Finally, an applicant must establish that a positive exercise of discretion is merited.
A USCIS officer conducts a non-adversarial interview of each refugee applicant designed to elicit information about the applicant’s claim for refugee status, any grounds of ineligibility, and factors related to the exercise of discretion. The officer asks questions about the applicant’s experiences in the country of origin, including problems and fears about returning (or remaining), as well as questions concerning the applicant’s activities, background, and criminal history. The officer also considers evidence about conditions in the country of origin and assesses the applicant’s credibility and claim. For derivative applicants, the officer also asks questions to inform the decision of eligibility based on family relationships.
Background Security Checks
Refugees are among the most heavily screened groups to enter the United States, and the safety and security of the American people remains the first and foremost consideration in refugee admissions processing. Refugee applicants of all nationalities are required to undergo background security checks. Security checks include biographic name checks for all refugee applicants and biometric (fingerprint) checks for refugee applicants within certain age limits. PRM, through its overseas RSCs, initiates required biographic name checks, while USCIS is responsible for collecting biometric data for screening. Biographic and biometric information is vetted against a broad array of law enforcement, intelligence community, and other relevant databases to help confirm identity, to check for any criminal or other derogatory information (including watchlist information), and to identify information that could inform lines of questioning during the interview. Refugee applicants must have all required security checks resolved prior to admission to the United States as a refugee.
In addition, PRM and USCIS work continually with interagency partners to identify opportunities to enhance security screening for refugee applicants. This includes increasing the efficacy, efficiency, and fairness of security screening without sacrificing the rigorous security measures that ensure the safety and security of the American people.
Overseas Processing Services
In most processing locations, PRM funds an NGO or an international organization (IO) to manage a Resettlement Support Center (RSC) that assists in the processing of refugee applicants for admission to the United States. RSC staff pre-screen applicants for eligibility for one of the applicable processing priorities and to prepare cases for USCIS adjudication. The RSCs assist applicants in completing documentary requirements and schedule USCIS refugee eligibility interviews. If an applicant is conditionally approved for resettlement by USCIS, RSC staff guide the refugee through post-adjudication steps, including obtaining medical screening exams and attending cultural orientation programs. The RSC obtains sponsorship assurances and, once all required steps are completed, including all necessary security clearances, refers the case to IOM for transportation to the United States.
In FY 2021, NGOs (Church World Service, HIAS, the International Catholic Migration Commission, and the International Rescue Committee) worked under cooperative agreements with PRM to operate RSCs at locations in Austria (covering Austria and Israel), Kenya (covering sub-Saharan Africa), Turkey (covering Lebanon), and Thailand (covering Asia). The Department of State funded IOM to support refugee processing activities based in El Salvador, Jordan, and Ukraine which cover Latin America, the Middle East, and Central Asia, respectively.
PRM strives to ensure that refugees who are accepted for admission to the United States are prepared for the profound life changes they will experience as part of the resettlement process. This is done through pre-departure and post-arrival cultural orientation which aims to provide refugees with the vital knowledge, skills, and attitudes they need to adapt to their new lives and be well positioned to achieve self-sufficiency.
Pre-departure cultural orientation is offered by RSCs and usually takes place one week to three months before departure. Modified as needed for specific refugee populations and in-country circumstances, pre-departure cultural orientation generally lasts from one to five days and is provided by trained educators using appropriate teaching methodologies based on established objectives and indicators. It begins with in-depth instructions on international travel and safety, emphasizes the need for early employment and self-sufficiency, introduces American health and education systems, describes typical housing situations, and further explores refugees’ rights and responsibilities in relation to their resettlement process, their acquisition of lawful permanent resident status and pathway to citizenship, U.S. laws, and more. Every refugee family is offered a copy of Welcome to the United States, a resettlement guidebook, developed with contributions from refugee resettlement workers, resettled refugees, and government officials. A companion video is also available and frequently used with other videos to enhance cultural orientation for populations with low literacy.
Post-arrival cultural orientation is provided, beginning right after arrival in the United States, by staff at local resettlement agencies. As part of the resettlement cultural orientation continuum, post-arrival cultural orientation reviews and builds upon pre-departure cultural orientation by grounding lessons in the local context. For example, state health care coverage is explained as refugees learn how to access and pay for health services; refugees are introduced to the local public school system and learn about customary student behavior and expectations of parental involvement; and refugees learn about the amenities and services available in their new communities. In many locations, local partners, such as representatives from health care facilities, banks, and local police stations, are invited to attend cultural orientation to break down barriers and build trust. Volunteers in many communities also help with cultural orientation by accompanying refugees to neighborhood grocery stores or the library, or by showing them how public transportation works in their cities. A comprehensive curriculum is provided to support resettlement staff with adaptable lesson plans and activities and offers guidance on effective instructional approaches, working with groups of different sizes, incorporating English into orientation, and conducting assessments.
PRM also supports a robust technical assistance program, the Cultural Orientation Resource Exchange (https://coresourceexchange.org/), which works to ensure that refugees receive consistent messages in pre-departure and post-arrival cultural orientation and trains resettlement staff to deliver effective cultural orientation. In addition, the Cultural Orientation Resource Exchange helps providers respond to unforeseen events that impact resettlement and require rapid adaptation and critical communication to resettling refugees, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Cultural Orientation Resource Exchange also develops and manages refugee-facing resources and digital channels to augment instructor-led classes, support refugee self-learning, and build the digital skills that will help them achieve self-sufficiency.
PRM funds the international transportation of refugees resettled in the United States through a program administered by IOM. The cost of transportation is provided to refugees in the form of a loan. Refugees are responsible for repaying these loans over time, beginning six months after their arrival, although it is possible to request a deferral based on inability to begin paying at that time.
Reception and Placement (R&P)
In FY 2021, PRM funded cooperative agreements with nine non-profit resettlement agencies to provide initial resettlement services to refugees arriving in the United States pursuant to the authority in 8 U.S.C. 1522(b). The R&P agencies are responsible for providing initial reception and core services (including housing, furnishings, clothing and food, as well as assistance with access to medical, employment, educational, and social services) to arriving refugees. These services are provided according to standards of care within a framework of outcomes and indicators developed jointly by the NGO community, state refugee coordinators, and U.S. government agencies. The nine organizations maintain a nationwide network of 208 affiliated offices in 148 locations to provide services. Two of the organizations also maintain a network of 29 affiliated offices through which unaccompanied refugee minors are placed into foster care, a program administered and funded by HHS/ORR.
Using R&P funds from PRM, supplemented by funds and in-kind contributions from private and other sources, the participating agencies provide the following services, consistent with the terms of the R&P cooperative agreement:
- Pre-arrival resettlement planning, including placement;
- Reception on arrival;
- Basic needs support (including housing, furnishings, food, and clothing) for at least 30 days;
- Cultural orientation;
- Assistance with access to health, employment, education, and other services, as needed; and
- Development and implementation of an initial service plan for each refugee.
Through the Refugee Act, Congress directed HHS/ORR to provide refugees with resettlement assistance that includes employment training, English language training, cash assistance (in a manner that promotes early self-sufficiency), and job placement – including providing women with equal opportunities to employment as men. ORR’s mission is to help refugees transition into the United States by providing benefits and assistance to achieve integration as soon as possible. To this end, ORR funds and administers various programs, some of which are highlighted below.
Refugee Cash and Medical Assistance
Refugees not eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or those pending receipt of Supplemental Security Income are eligible to receive Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) upon arrival. Refugees not eligible for Medicaid are eligible to receive Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA) upon arrival. While refugees are statutorily authorized to receive RCA and RMA for up to 36 months from arrival, funding limitations have historically limited RCA and RMA to eight months of benefits. ORR is exploring options to better support refugees during this timeframe given rising housing costs and the desire to better match employment with skill level. RCA and RMA are administered by states and Replacement Designees, who are private entities designated by ORR to administer the refugee program in a state that has withdrawn from administration of the program. In state-administered programs that operate a publicly administered RCA program, RCA benefits are based on cash benefit levels established by state TANF programs. In states that operate their RCA program through a Public-Private Program model, the RCA benefit is based on the higher of the RCA rates outlined in the ORR regulations or the state TANF rates.
Refugee Support Services
ORR also provides states and Replacement Designees with Refugee Support Services (RSS) funds. ORR distributes this funding by formula based on the arrived and served ORR-eligible populations for up to the previous three years. Funding is time-limited, and refugees can only access RSS services up to five years after arrival. These services include employment services, on-the-job training, English language instruction, vocational training, case management, translation/interpreter services, social adjustment services, health-related services, home management, childcare and transportation.
Additionally, to assist specific groups of refugees or to target specific needs, ORR administers specialized RSS “set-aside” programs that include Services to Older Refugees, Refugee School Impact, Youth Mentoring, and Refugee Health Promotion.
ORR Matching Grant Program
The ORR Matching Grant program (MG) is provided through the nine national resettlement agencies that provide R&P services and their resettlement affiliates in 42 states. The objective of MG is to guide newly arrived refugee households toward economic self-sufficiency through employment within six months of program eligibility (which usually begins on the date of arrival in the United States). In MG, self-sufficiency is defined as total household income from employment that (1) would exceed the established state income threshold for TANF eligibility, and (2) enables a family unit to support itself without relying on cash assistance. For each MG participant, ORR awards a per capita grant to participating national resettlement agencies, which then allocate funds to their networks of local affiliates for direct services and administrative expenses. Agencies provide a 50% match to every federal dollar awarded.
Through the ORR MG Program, local service providers ensure core support services for a minimum of 180 days which include housing, transportation, food, and a cash allowance. Clients also receive intensive case management and employment services throughout the 180-day service period. Refugees who are unable to attain self-sufficiency by day 180 may access RCA for the remainder of the eligibility period, which is generally eight months.
ORR Refugee Health
ORR services focus on providing technical assistance on domestic medical screening guidelines and refugee medical assistance, assessment and follow-up for contagious or communicable diseases, mental health awareness and linkages, suicide prevention, emergency preparedness and other health and mental health initiatives. Specifically, ORR funds RMA, refugee medical screening, and refugee health promotion to support refugee populations. The Survivors of Torture program is also funded by ORR to provide culturally competent and strengths-based services, as well as client-centered treatment plans to restore dignity, enhance resilience, and rebuild the lives of all survivors of torture, regardless of immigration status. ORR also conducts mental-health first aid trainings to refugee-serving program staff and refugee community leaders to help them identify and assist refugees in emotional distress.
ORR Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Program
ORR provides funding to 15 states, including the District of Columbia, and Replacement Designees to administer 25 Unaccompanied Refugee Minor programs. The Unaccompanied Refugee Minors program separate and distinct from ORR’s Unaccompanied Children Program. States and Replacement Designees contract with local licensed foster care agencies that provide specialized placements and services to unaccompanied refugee minors. Unaccompanied refugee minors live in various placements including traditional and therapeutic foster homes, group homes, semi-independent and independent living, and residential treatment centers. The youth receive various services including English language training, educational and vocational training, cultural preservation, social integration, family tracing, permanency planning, independent living, medical care, and mental health care. ORR regulations require states to provide services to unaccompanied refugee minors in parity with the state’s Title IV-B and Title IV-E foster care plans.
Wilson-Fish TANF Coordination Program
The Wilson-Fish TANF Coordination Program supports the development and implementation of new or innovative programs throughout a state to facilitate access by refugee families with children under the age of 18, or generally those refugees who may be eligible for TANF, to relevant, customized, and culturally and linguistically appropriate integrated services and resources that harness refugees’ specific strengths and address the challenges they face post-resettlement. Administered through a discretionary award to both state and non-profit grantees, services provided under this program are available for up to five years after a refugee’s arrival to the U.S.
ORR Technical Assistance
ORR’s Refugee Technical Assistance Program provides technical assistance to resettlement stakeholders to enhance services, strengthen organizational capacity, and increase community engagement. Switchboard, a project of the International Rescue Committee, is funded by ORR and makes its resources, trainings, and expertise available to all ORR grantees and sub-grantees.
ORR also funds a technical assistance provider to support grantees in its Survivors of Torture program. The Center for Victims of Torture’s National Capacity Building project supports ORR Survivor of Torture grantees by building capacity to provide holistic, sustainable, and integrated services and evaluating and strengthening the quality and sustainability of these programs and organizations.
REGIONAL REFUGEE ADMISSIONS
The proposed FY 2022 ceiling for African refugees from these regions is 40,000 individuals.
There are currently more than 6.8 million refugees across the African continent, constituting roughly 26 percent of the global refugee population. Refugee numbers in Africa increased in 2021 due to new or intensified conflicts across the continent, extreme weather, and economic fallout of COVID-19. According to UNHCR, Uganda, Sudan, and Ethiopia alone hosted over two-thirds of the refugees in the region. The East and Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region hosted 4.5 million refugees at the end of 2020. In June 2021, there were more than 2.3 million South Sudanese refugees in neighboring countries.
Over the past year, the outbreak and expansion of conflict in northern Ethiopia has sparked a widespread humanitarian crisis and conflict-induced famine. More than 5.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. The Tigray conflict in Ethiopia has led to the displacement of more than 50,000 Ethiopians into neighboring Sudan. The deepening crisis in the Sahel region of Africa, including violence in Burkina Faso and Mali, and continued violence by armed groups in northern Nigeria caused the largest increase in the number of new refugees on the continent in 2020.
The estimated resettlement needs in the Africa region in 2022 continue to be the highest globally. While voluntary repatriation and local integration may be possible in small numbers, resettlement remains an important durable solution for refugees across the continent. UNHCR estimates that over 600,000 refugees in sub-Saharan Africa have resettlement needs. To address these needs, the United States plans to significantly increase resettlement activities in Africa in the coming years. This growth will come from the continued processing of Congolese, Eritrean, and Sudanese refugees, as well as through building resettlement programs for populations that the USRAP has so far only processed in small numbers, including refugees from South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
Due to the continued conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, UNHCR intends to refer increased numbers of Congolese from the Great Lakes region and Southern Africa to the USRAP. There also continues to be a sizable number of Congolese refugees in the USRAP pipeline. Congolese refugees will continue to constitute one of the largest arrival populations. In response to the crisis in northern Ethiopia, the United States will also increase the Ethiopian refugee admissions target for FY 2022 in order to provide urgent resettlement to displaced Eritrean and other refugees within Ethiopia and those Ethiopians who have fled as refugees to neighboring countries. UNHCR has indicated that there is an urgent need to increase Eritrean referrals in Ethiopia and Sudan.
The United States intends to significantly increase South Sudanese resettlement in the coming years in conjunction with UNHCR and to lay the foundation for a sizable resettlement program for refugees from the Central African Republic who are located throughout West Africa but primarily in Chad and Cameroon. Additionally, the United States expects a renewed focus on resettlement for Sudanese refugees in sub-Saharan Africa, including in Chad.
The United States will continue to be a key partner in the resettlement of unaccompanied refugee minors from Africa. As one of the few countries with the domestic capacity to resettle unaccompanied minors, the United States plans to increase the number of emergency unaccompanied refugee minor cases processed throughout the continent. There will also be continued focus on unaccompanied refugee minors who have been evacuated from Libya by UNHCR to transit points in Niger and Rwanda, as well as minors facing persecution in Ethiopia and elsewhere.
The proposed FY 2022 ceiling for refugees from East Asia is 15,000 individuals.
According to UNHCR, there are 9.2 million people of concern across Asia, including 4.4 million refugees and asylum-seekers. Several countries in East Asia host large and diverse refugee and asylum-seeker populations. Thailand, Bangladesh, and Malaysia continue to host large numbers of Burmese refugees and asylum-seekers, as well as Afghan, Iraqi, Pakistani, Somali, Sri Lankan, Sudanese, and Syrian refugees. Thousands of refugees are in the capital cities of Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta. One million one hundred thousand stateless Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar since the beginning of ethnic cleansing in Rakhine state in 2017. Malaysia and Bangladesh host 90 percent of all Rohingya refugees.
The two primary countries for UNHCR referrals from East Asia are Malaysia and Thailand, with a smaller number of referrals from other countries in the region. The Rohingya will remain a population for priority consideration, including from Bangladesh. More than 9,000 Rohingya have resettled to the United States over the past decade, primarily from Malaysia. In Thailand and Malaysia, PRM continues to work through the residual caseload of the P-2 camp-based Burmese refugees and the P-2 urban Burmese, respectively. UNHCR’s focus for new referrals will be from these diverse urban refugee populations.
For members of ethnic and religious minorities and others from Burma in camps in Thailand, there is a P-2 designation for individuals who fled Burma, were registered in one of nine refugee camps along the Thai/Burma border, were identified by UNHCR as in need of resettlement, and expressed interest in third-country resettlement prior to January 2014 (depending on the location), these individuals are eligible for resettlement consideration. In addition, for member of ethnic and religious minorities from Burma who are in Malaysia, the P-2 designation for members of ethnic minorities from Burma who were recognized by UNHCR as refugees in Malaysia, registered by August 17, 2010, and identified as being in need of resettlement, are eligible for resettlement consideration.
The proposed FY 2022 ceiling for refugees from Europe and Central Asia is 10,000 individuals. This regional allocation counts refugees of European and Central Asian nationalities only.
Europe hosts large refugee populations, as well as significant numbers of asylum-seekers, internally displaced persons, and stateless persons. According to UNHCR, there were over 6.8 million refugees in Europe at the end of 2020. This represented an increase of three percent in the total number of refugees hosted in Europe. Many refugees in Europe fled conflicts outside the region, particularly conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq, but the estimate also includes persons claiming persecution within Eurasia, including hundreds of thousands of refugees and IDPs in the Balkans and Caucasus. Turkey continued to host the largest refugee population in the world, accounting for nearly 15 percent of all people displaced across borders. According to UNHCR, there are nearly four million refugees in Turkey in 2021, the vast majority of whom are Syrians (3.6 million), with smaller numbers of Afghans, Iraqis, Iranians, and other nationalities. Refugees resettled from Turkey are counted in the Near East and South Asia regional allocation, which is discussed in more detail below.
P-2 referrals include individuals who will be processed under Lautenberg guidelines in the states of the former Soviet Union. Nearly all of the refugee caseload within Eurasia falls under the direct access P-2 Lautenberg Program, whereby citizens of the Former Soviet Union (FSU) are eligible for the USRAP if they belong to certain religious categories and can show a qualifying relationship with individuals legally residing in the United States.
The resettlement of Iranian refugees suffering religious persecution has long been accomplished through a unique partnership with the Government of Austria (GoA) as a component of the P-2 Lautenberg Program. While this program has been suspended since 2017, the United States hopes to resume processing in FY 2022. These refugees would be counted against the Near East/South Asia regional allocation.
The proposed FY 2022 allocation for refugees from Latin America and the Caribbean is 15,000 individuals.
According to UNHCR, countries in Latin America and the Caribbean host close to 15.4 million people of concern to UNHCR, including asylum-seekers, refugees, stateless persons, and internally displaced persons, representing around 18 percent of the world’s forcibly displaced population. The political, economic, and human rights crisis in Venezuela has continued to deteriorate. The number of Venezuelans displaced grew by eight percent in 2020, reaching 4.6 million by the end of 2020. UNHCR has warned that the displacement of Venezuelans may soon eclipse the displacement of Syrians. Dramatic increases in violence by organized criminal gangs in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador led to almost 900,000 people being forcibly displaced from those three countries. Violence in Colombia among armed groups seeking to fill the power vacuum left by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) led to thousands of displaced Colombians fleeing to Ecuador, while Colombia itself hosted more than 1.7 million refugees from the crisis in Venezuela. Since nationwide protests and subsequent government crackdowns began in April 2018 in Nicaragua, over 100,000 Nicaraguans have fled to neighboring countries, with the vast majority journeying south to Costa Rica and Panama.
The majority of arrivals from Latin America in FY 2022 will originate from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, where displacement is driven by widespread violence and compounded by limited economic opportunities, poverty, poor governance, corruption, and the effects of a changing climate that exacerbates food insecurity and extreme weather events that can result in displacement. PRM is also working with UNHCR to stand up new referral mechanisms for displaced Venezuelans and Nicaraguans, primarily through P-1 access to the USRAP in FY 2022.
PRM anticipates that up to 10,000 individuals in the region will access the USRAP through two primary mechanisms. The first mechanism will be through a Protection Transfer Arrangement between the Government of Costa Rica, UNHCR, and IOM, whereby P-1 referrals will be identified and processed for resettlement in their country of nationality or habitual residence, with the most urgent cases transferred to Costa Rica to undergo final processing. The second primary mechanism will be through the Central American Minors program, where certain U.S.-based parents and legal guardians may petition for access to this P-2 program for their eligible children and other family members in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
The proposed FY 2022 ceiling for refugees from the Near East and South Asia is 35,000 individuals, including Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans, and other nationalities, primarily from the host countries of Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt.
The Near East and South Asia region continues to host more than 8 million refugees, primarily Afghans, Iranians, Iraqis, Palestinians, Sri Lankans, Tibetans, and Syrians. The conflict in Syria entered its eleventh year in 2021 and remains the largest displacement crisis since World War II. According to UNHCR, there are currently 13.5 million displaced Syrians, accounting for more than half of Syria’s total population. Approximately 6.7 million Syrians refugees are hosted in over 128 countries, while 6.7 million Syrians are internally displaced. Turkey is the largest host of Syrian refugees, and 80% of all Syrian refugees are located in neighboring countries. More than 3.6 million Syrians have fled to Turkey. Refugee vulnerability across the Near East continued to increase in 2021. For example, 89 percent of Syrian refugees in Lebanon live below the extreme poverty line and close to two million Syrian refugees in Turkey live in poverty. As the protracted conflict in Syria continues, UNHCR reports that Syrian nationals have the highest resettlement needs globally and estimates that more than 592,000 Syrians will need resettlement as part of an ongoing multi-year targeted program.
The situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated rapidly throughout the summer of 2021. More than 550,000 Afghans have been displaced so far this year in addition to the 2.9 million internally displaced at the end of 2020. Some 2.2 million Afghan refugees and asylum-seekers have fled to neighboring countries, with an estimated 5,000 Afghans are fleeing to Iran each day in August 2021. With the Taliban taking control in Afghanistan, thousands more are attempting to leave.
In addition to the Afghan P-2 program, for which PRM has received tens of thousands of referrals, an interagency effort is underway to relocate Afghan Special Immigrant Visa applicants to the United States.
Instability in Iraq continues to cause displacement in the region. Millions of Iraqis have been displaced since the emergence of ISIS in early 2014. UNHCR estimates nearly 1.2 million Iraqis remain internally displaced in 2021 and unable to return to their homes due to limited employment opportunities, lack of basic services, violence, and insecurity. UNHCR reports an additional 287,000 displaced Iraqi refugees were registered with UNHCR in neighboring countries in 2021. Involuntary returns due to IDP camp closures in Iraq between October 2020 and January 2021 resulted in secondary displacement for many Iraqis. IDP camps in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, however, remain open.
The USRAP continues to be available through P-1 referrals to persons of any or no nationality who have been persecuted or fear persecution due to religion. In addition, P-3 provides USRAP access to individuals of special humanitarian concern who have immediate family members in the United States who were admitted in certain humanitarian immigrant statuses. At present, the following countries have been designated by the Secretary of State as Countries of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.
Africa: Eritrea and Nigeria
In Eritrea and Nigeria, the governments are engaging in or tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.
East Asia: DPRK, China, and Burma
The DPRK severely restricts religious freedom, including organized religious activity, except for that which is supervised tightly by officially recognized groups linked to the government. While the constitutions of China and Burma provide for freedom of religion, in practice these governments restrict or repress religious activities. Furthermore, the Burmese military coup that took place in February 2021 has abrogated human rights enshrined in the constitution and laws, with resultant repression of religious freedom and related rights.
Europe and Central Asia: Tajikistan and Turkmenistan
Under Tajikistani law, persons under the age of 18 cannot participate in public religious activities, and a ruling by Tajikistan’s highest Islamic religious body bans Hanafi Sunni women from attending mosques. The government of Turkmenistan has imprisoned an unknown number of Muslims for their religious beliefs, as well as conscientious objectors, primarily Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Near East and South Asia: Iran, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia
In Iran, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, blasphemy and defamation of religion laws are used to restrict religious liberty, constrain the rights of religious minorities, and limit freedom of expression, and those accused face prison sentences and threats of violence.
As reflected in the North Korean Human Rights Act, the United States remains deeply concerned about the human rights situation of North Koreans both inside the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and in various countries in the region. The United States began resettling interested, eligible North Korean refugees and their family members in 2006 and remains committed to continuing this program.
In FY 2020, the USRAP admitted 11,814 refugees from 55 countries. More than half were originally from either the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burma. (See Table IV.)
The demographic characteristics of refugee arrivals from the 20 largest source countries (representing close to 100 percent of total arrivals) in FY 2020 illustrate the variation among refugee groups. The median age of all FY 2020 arrivals was 21 years, ranging from a median age of 18 years for arrivals from Eritrea to 37 years of age for arrivals from Armenia. In FY 2020, 48.2 percent of all arriving refugees were female and 51.9 percent of all arriving refugees were male. Males predominated among refugees from Iran (76.6 percent), Pakistan (65.1 percent), and Sudan (61.4 percent). (See Table IV.)
Of the total arrivals in FY 2020, roughly 11.3 percent were under the age of five, 29.3 percent were of school age, 57 percent were of working age, and 2.3 percent were of retirement age. (See Table V.) Considerable variation among refugee groups can be seen among specific age categories. Refugees under the age of five ranged from a high of 17.2 percent among arrivals from Ethiopia to a low of 2.9 percent of those from Iran. The number of school-age children (from five to 17 years of age) varied from a high of over 39 percent of arrivals from Syria to a low of 5.8 percent of those from Iran. The number of working-age refugees (16 to 64 years of age) varied from a high of 91.2 percent of those from Iran to a low of 50.3 percent of individuals from Eritrea. Retirement-age refugees (65 years or older) ranged from a high of 6.3 percent of arrivals from Armenia to a low of less than one percent of those from Eritrea.
During FY 2020, 62 percent of all arriving refugees resettled in 12 states. The majority were placed in California (10 percent), followed by Washington (9.4 percent), Texas (7.6 percent), New York (5.2 percent), Michigan (4.2 percent), and Kentucky (4 percent). The states of North Carolina (4 percent), Pennsylvania (3.8 percent), Arizona (3.8 percent), Ohio (3.6 percent), Minnesota (3.3 percent), and Georgia (3.2 percent) also were in the top twelve states where refugees were resettled. (See Table VI.)
1 FY 2021 and 2022 figures include cost factors to reflect Headquarters facilities rent related to the refugee resettlement program, staffing, general expense and following-to-join refugee processing, in addition to certain International Cooperative Administrative Support Services (ICASS) and Capital Security Cost Sharing (CSCS) costs. FY2022 includes projected staffing enhancements and approximately $78.8 in appropriated funds as requested in the President’s FY 2022 Budget Request.
2 FY 2021: Includes FY 2021 Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA) appropriation of $232.9 million, $85.9 million in MRA carryover from FY 2020, $42 million in projected IOM loan collections/carryover, and an estimate of $41 million in prior year MRA recoveries. A portion of these funds will be carried forward into FY 2022.
3 FY 2022: Includes FY 2022 MRA budget request of $825 million ($550 million in the Admissions line and $275 million in the Protection Priorities line), $38.5 million in projected IOM loan collections/ carryover, and an estimate of $6 million in prior year MRA recoveries. Funds in the Protection Priorities line may be used for other refugee needs if not needed for resettlement costs in FY 2022.
4 FY 2021 and FY 2022: HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement’s (ORR) refugee benefits and services are also provided to asylees, Cuban and Haitian entrants, certain Amerasians from Vietnam, victims of a severe form of trafficking who have received certification or eligibility letters from ORR, as well as Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa holders. However, only refugees are included in the refugee admissions ceiling; there is no admissions target for the other ORR-eligible populations. The estimated funding to provide cash and medical assistance, domestic medical screenings, and refugee social services for these populations, as well as services for unaccompanied refugee minors are included here. ORR’s appropriations for the Survivors of Torture and Unaccompanied Children’s Program are not included in this data. Funding estimates to support these populations in mainstream services such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid, and Supplemental Security Income are also not included, as they are not appropriated by ORR. These estimates do not include any prior year carryover funding. The estimated FY 2022 figures above reflect the President’s FY 2022 Budget request.
Resettlement country figures (submissions and departures) may not match UNHCR reported figures as resettlement country figures may include submissions received outside of UNHCR auspices. UNHCR figures may also include cases in which UNHCR did not submit but assisted, i.e., obtaining exit permits for humanitarian admissions or family reunion.
 This petition is used to file for the relatives of both refugees and asylees, also known as Visa 93 and Visa 92 cases respectively. The USRAP handles only Visa 93 cases, which are counted within the annual refugee admissions ceiling. Visa 92 cases are not considered to be refugee admissions cases and are not counted in the number of refugees admitted annually.
 Under E.O. 14010, DHS and DOJ are engaging in a joint rulemaking to address the meaning of ‘particular social group’ as that term is used in the aforementioned section of the INA, and as derived from the 1951 Refugee Convention.
 Note that refugees count against a regional allocation based on nationality, not the processing location.