Since 1975, nearly 300,000 refugees from Near Eastern and South Asian countries have been resettled in the United States. Most have been from Iraq (more than 110,000), Iran (more than 90,000), Bhutan (more than 60,000), or Afghanistan (more than 26,000). Currently, among the refugees in the region, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) refers mainly Iraqi, Bhutanese, and Iranian refugees for U.S. resettlement consideration. These refugees are often members of religious and ethnic minorities or vulnerable women at risk who have sought temporary asylum in countries in the region. In FY 2012, 30,057 refugees from 18 countries in the Near East/South Asia region were admitted to the United States, including 15,070 Bhutanese, 12,163 Iraqis, and 1,758 Iranians.
A Regional Refugee Coordinator posted to U.S. Embassy Amman coordinates admissions from the Near East, while a Refugee Coordinator posted to U.S. Embassy Baghdad covers 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 U.S. Embassy Kathmandu coordinates admissions from South Asia. An RSC in Nepal handles processing in South Asia. The Department of Homeland Security/U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (DHS/USCIS) conducts regular refugee adjudication “circuit rides” throughout the region. Transportation to the United States is arranged by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
FY 2013 Admissions Program
The regional refugee admissions ceiling for the Near East and South Asia for FY 2011 is 31,000 and focuses primarily on Iraqis, Bhutanese, and Iranian religious minorities.