Refugees have been in the news a lot lately. Between the millions of refugees fleeing Syria and continued Islamic State terrorist attacks, many governments have reevaluated their refugee regulations. Here is a rundown of how the refugee process works in the United States, and how a refugee moves from their home country to their new home in Louisiana.
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a person must satisfy certain criteria to be admitted to the United States as a refugee. One of the most defining characteristics of a refugee as opposed to anyone else who wants to come to the US is that they must demonstrate that they have been persecuted or that they are likely to be persecuted based on, “race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.” A refugee can only be admitted to the United States if they have not been resettled somewhere else, and if they have never taken part in the persecution of another group of people.
Refugees who have been determined by USCIS to be eligible to be resettled in the United States as a refugee are given a loan to pay for travel to the United States. The American Immigration Council explains that refugees must start making payments on this loan after 6 months of arriving in the US. The resettlement process is a collaboration between the US government and volunteer agencies. Volunteer agencies who work with refugees will determine where they should be resettled. Agencies attempt to place refugees in cities or states where they have relatives. Volunteer agencies provide everything refugees need for the first 90 days in the United States, including housing, food, and clothing. They also provide job counseling to help refugees become employed within 6 months.
After a refugee has been in the US for a year, they can apply to become a legal permanent resident of the United States. After 5 years, a refugee can apply to become a naturalized citizen.