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U.S. Refugee Admissions Program:  Reception and Placement

Refugees selected for resettlement through U.S. Refugee Admissions Program are eligible for Reception and Placement (R&P) assistance upon arrival in the United States.   Each refugee approved for admission to the United States is sponsored by one of ten non-profit resettlement agencies  participating in the R&P Program under a cooperative agreement with the Department of State.  Some refugees may elect to be resettled through the new private sponsorship program, the Welcome Corps, which is an alternative to the R&P program.  For more information about the Welcome Corps, please visit the Welcome Corps Fact Sheet and the Welcome Corps website .

Where are Refugees Resettled?

Representatives from the resettlement agencies meet frequently to review the biographic information and other case records sent by the Department of State’s overseas Resettlement Support Centers (RSC) to match the particular needs of each incoming refugee with the specific resources available in U.S. communities (e.g., availability of affordable and safe housing, school capacity, medical care, and employment opportunities).

Through this process, they determine which resettlement agency will sponsor a case and where each refugee will be initially resettled in the United States.

Many refugees have family or close friends already in the United States, and resettlement agencies make every effort to reunite them.  Others are placed where they have the best opportunity for success through employment with the assistance of strong community services.  Agencies place refugees through a network of 300 local affiliates operating in 202 communities and 46 states throughout the United States.  The availability and affordability of housing is a key factor and constraint in a community’s capacity to resettle individuals.  The Department of State and Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), as well as the resettlement agencies, have been actively working to identify and support housing resources, and are connected to a wide range of national and local partners to assist in this effort.  To the extent possible, individuals are resettled in areas that have the capacity to offer reasonable and available housing, as well as strong services and access to employment.

What Do the Resettlement Agencies Do?

The sponsoring resettlement agency is responsible for placing refugees with one of its local affiliates and for providing initial 30 to 90 day services after arrival.  The Department of State’s standard cooperative agreement with each of the resettlement agencies specifies the services the agency must provide.  The Department of State provides a one-time payment of $2,425 per individual refugee to the local resettlement affiliates, of which $1,325 is available for agencies to use to fund the critical direct assistance needs of refugees, such as rent, food, clothing, and furnishings.

The remainder of the per capita funds is used to fund the delivery of services by resettlement staff, such as locating and preparing housing, cultural orientation, enrollment of youth in school, assistance with access to employment, medical and legal services, and case management during refugees’ first three months in their new communities.

The R&P Program is a public-private partnership and resettlement agencies work closely with local communities to supplement federal funding through volunteers and donations.

What Happens When Refugees Arrive?

Upon arrival in the United States, refugees are met by someone from the local resettlement affiliate or a family member or friend.  They are taken to their initial housing, which has essential furnishings, appropriate food, and other basic necessities.

The resettlement agencies assist refugees during their initial resettlement in the United States, including enrolling in employment services, registering youth for school, accessing medical care, applying for Social Security cards, and connecting them with necessary social or language services.  In coordination with publicly supported refugee service and assistance programs, resettlement agencies focus on assisting refugees to achieve economic self-sufficiency through employment as soon as possible after their arrival in the United States.

Beyond R&P

The R&P Program is limited to the first three months after arrival, but the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement   works through the states as well as resettlement agencies, and other community-based organizations to provide longer-term assistance, as well as English language training and employment, and social services.  Refugees are also eligible for mainstream federal benefits.

U.S. Department of State

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