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ISSUE DATE: 12/2016


The United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) is a federal humanitarian and protection program that provides for the resettlement of people who have been forced to flee their homeland and are unable to return because of a well-founded fear of persecution. Individuals are screened for eligibility for admission to the U.S. while overseas, in a process that involves screening by non-governmental organizations, interviews with U.S. immigration officers, verification of persecution claims, medical clearances, background checks, and extensive security clearances. These processes involve multiple federal agencies, including the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense and the National Counterterrorism Center. For more information on refugee admissions in the U.S., see US Department of State, Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration, Refugee Admissions.

The goals of the USRAP are:

To provide a safe haven to people approved for refugee status who are not able to safely return to their home country or integrate into the country they fled to.

To assist them to achieve economic self-sufficiency as quickly as possible after arrival to the U.S.

Persons with refugee status in the United States are eligible to apply for public benefits, are authorized to work upon arrival and have a path to citizenship.


The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) oversees supports and services for refugees during the Initial Reception and Placement period (R&P) - the first 30-90 days after refugee arrival to the U.S. PRM contracts with 9 national resettlement agencies to provide services to refugees arriving to the United States. Which state a person arriving with refugee status is placed in is based on several factors, including:

If the refugee has family or close connections in a particular state.

If the refugee has particular needs that are best matched with specific resources in a local community.

The capacity of local resettlement agencies and communities.

Once a person or family with refugee status is allocated to a particular state, they are then assigned to a local resettlement agency affiliated with one of the 9 national agencies.

Local resettlement agencies provide initial R&P services to individuals and families arriving with refugee status, in coordination with local volunteers such as relatives, faith groups, and community members. For information about local resettlement agencies in Minnesota, see 0030.01 (Local Resettlement Agencies). For more information about the Reception and Placement Program, see US Department of State/ Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration /The Reception and Placement Program.

People with refugee status in the US are not considered “Sponsored Immigrants” in the U.S. immigration system. Although volunteers or family members helping the family are sometimes referred to as “refugee sponsors,” they bear no financial obligation for persons arriving with refugee status. These family or friends assisting refugees are called U.S. Ties.


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) oversees supports and services for refugees after the Initial Reception and Placement period. The MN Department of Human Services Resettlement Programs Office (RPO) manages these funds for MN. Resources are focused on refugee self-sufficiency and integration, and are time-limited, with priority on refugees who have been in the U.S less than 1 year.

RPO funded services include:

Refugee Cash Assistance. See 0030.03 (Refugee Cash Assistance).

Refugee Medical Assistance. See the Minnesota Health Care Programs Eligibility Policy Manual.

Refugee Employment Services.

Refugee Social Services.

Refugee Health Screenings.

Only persons with the following non-citizen status are eligible for RPO funded services:


Iraqi and Afghani Special Immigrants (SIV’s).


Cuban and Haitian Entrants.

Certain Amerasians.

Victims of Severe Forms of Trafficking.

DHS Resettlement Programs Office

State Department Refugee Admissions Program

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Refugee Processing Center

Office of Refugee Resettlement

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