Since 1975, nearly 250,000 refugees from Near Eastern and South Asian countries have been resettled in the United States. Most have been from Iraq (nearly 100,000), Iran (nearly 85,000), Bhutan (over 35,000) or Afghanistan (over 26,000). These refugees are often members of religious and ethnic minorities or vulnerable women who have sought temporary asylum in countries in the region. In FY 2010, 35,782 refugees from 20 countries in the Near East/South Asia region were admitted to the United States, including 18,016 Iraqis, 12,363 Bhutanese, and 3,543 Iranians.
Most refugees considered for U.S. resettlement from the Near East and South Asia are referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) coordinates admissions from the Near East through a Regional Refugee Coordinator posted to the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan. A Refugee Coordinator posted to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad manages in-country processing of Iraqis and UNHCR referrals of other nationalities inside Iraq. PRM has established two Resettlement Support Centers (RSCs) to coordinate refugee case preparation, post-adjudication processing, and cultural orientation in the Near East region – in Amman (with sub-offices in Cairo and Damascus and a mobile office that provides rotating coverage to Baghdad); and in Istanbul (with a sub-office in Beirut).
A Regional Refugee Coordinator posted to the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal coordinates admissions from South Asia. An RSC in Kathmandu handles processing in South Asia. The Department of Homeland Security/U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (DHS/USCIS) travels to conduct refugee adjudication interviews throughout the region. Transportation to the United States is arranged by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
FY 2011 Admissions Program
The regional refugee admissions ceiling for the Near East and South Asia for FY 2011 is 35,500 and focuses primarily on Iraqis, Bhutanese, and Iranian religious minorities.