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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, unlike asylees, who arrive in the United States on their own.  Each refugee approved for admission to the United States is sponsored by a non-profit resettlement agency  participating in the R&P Program under a cooperative agreement with the Department of State.

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), seeking to match the particular needs of each incoming refugee with the specific resources available in U.S. communities.  Through this process, they determine which resettlement agency will sponsor 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 approximately 200 local affiliates operating in communities throughout the United States.  Through its local affiliates, each agency monitors the resources that each community offers (e.g., availability of affordable and safe housing, school capacity, medical care, and employment opportunities).

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 services.  The Department of State’s standard cooperative agreement with each of the resettlement agencies specifies the services the agency must provide.  The R&P Program provides resettlement agencies a one-time payment per refugee to assist with expenses during a refugee’s first three months in the United States, but the program anticipates that sponsoring agencies will contribute significant cash or in-kind resources to supplement U.S. government funding.

What Happens When Refugees Arrive?

Upon arrival in the United States, all 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, 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.

Refugees receive employment authorization upon arrival and are encouraged to become employed as soon as possible.

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 and other non-governmental organizations to provide longer-term cash and medical assistance, as well as language, employment, and social services.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future