Responses to Information Requests

​​Responses to Information Requests (RIR) are research reports on country conditions. They are requested by IRB decision makers.

The database contains a seven-year archive of English and French RIR. Earlier RIR may be found on the European Country of Origin Information Network website​.

Please note that some RIR have attachments which are not electronically accessible here. To obtain a copy of an attachment, please e-mail us.

Related Links

5 April 2017

USA105778.E

United States: Information on refugees resettled in the US by the UNHCR, including status documents provided; ability to study, work, access social security, and travel outside the US; impact of travel outside the US on residency status and ability to access benefits (2013-April 2017)

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

1. Overview and Documentation

According to information regarding refugees posted on the website of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS),

[u]nder United States law, a refugee is someone who:

Is located outside of the United States

Is of special humanitarian concern to the United States

Demonstrates that they were persecuted or fear persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group

Is not firmly resettled in another country

Is admissible to the United States.

You must receive a referral to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for consideration as a refugee. (US 23 Mar. 2017)

According to information regarding the "U.S. Refugee Admissions Program," provided on the US Department of State's website,

[w]hen UNHCR — or, occasionally, a U.S. Embassy or a specially trained nongovernmental organization — refers a refugee applicant to the United States for resettlement, the case is first received and processed by a Resettlement Support Center (RSC). The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) funds and manages nine RSCs around the world, operated by international and nongovernmental organizations and one U.S. interests section. Under PRM’s guidance, the RSCs prepare eligible refugee applications for U.S. resettlement consideration. (US n.d.a)

The USCIS website's information section on refugees states that "[i]f you are admitted as a refugee, you must apply for a green card one year after coming to the United States" (US 23 Mar. 2017). According to the same source,

[a]s a refugee, you may work immediately upon arrival to the United States. When you are admitted to the United States you will receive a Form I-94 containing a refugee admission stamp. Additionally, a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, will be filed for you in order for you to receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). While you are waiting for your EAD, you can present your Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record, to your employer as proof of your permission to work in the United States. (US 23 Mar. 2017)

A document produced by the USCIS, entitled I Am a Refugee or Asylee: How Do I Show my Employer that I Am Authorized to Work in the United States?, is attached to this Response (Attachment 1). Information on UNHCR documentation provided to refugees resettling in the US could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

2. Access to Support Services

According to information on the "Reception and Placement Program" on the US Department of State's website, the program

provides assistance for refugees to settle in the United States. It supplies resettlement agencies a one-time sum per refugee to assist with meeting expenses during a refugee’s first few months in the United States. Most of these funds go toward the refugees’ rent, furnishings, food, and clothing, as well as to pay the costs of agency staff salaries, office space, and other resettlement-related expenses that are not donated or provided by volunteers.

Though the Department of State’s Reception and Placement program is limited to the first three months after arrival, the Department of Health and Human Services [HHS]’ Office of Refugee Resettlement [ORR] works through the states and other nongovernmental organizations to provide longer-term cash and medical assistance, as well as language, employment, and social services. (U.S. n.d.b)

An "FAQ" regarding the "U.S. Refugee Admissions Program" on the US Department of State's website indicates that the ORR

also funds programs for which refugees are eligible up to five years after arrival. Thus, although the Department of State’s role in the domestic resettlement is limited to the first 90 days, HHS/ORR funding comprises a critical component of support once those initial 90 days have expired. (U.S. 20 Jan 2017)

According to ORR's Annual Report to Congress: Office of Refugee Resettlement Fiscal Year 2015,

ORR’s core services assist refugees and other ORR-served populations to effectively resettle and achieve self-sufficiency. Core services quickly connect new arrivals to the workforce, while offering social services that focus on employment-related services, English language classes, and case-management. As described below, these benefits and services include cash assistance, health coverage, interpretation and translation services, school activities, and other programs that address barriers to employment.

ORR provides time-limited benefits and services to eligible ORR-served populations through Cash and Medical Assistance (CMA) grants to states. Benefits and services provided through CMA grants include cash assistance, health coverage, and domestic medical screenings to identify and treat diseases of public health concern and medical conditions. CMA also provides funding for the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) Program.

ORR-served populations who are otherwise eligible qualify for the same federal benefits as U.S. citizens, with some limits. These federal benefits include: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

When ORR-served populations do not meet the eligibility requirements for these programs, CMA provides cash assistance and health coverage through Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) and Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA). RCA provides cash assistance to ORR-served populations ineligible for TANF. RMA provides health coverage to ORR-served populations ineligible for Medicaid. Eligibility for RCA and RMA is restricted to the first eight months after arrival or date of eligibility. The Matching Grant program … is an alternative to RCA for ORR-served populations. (US 2015, pp. 11-12)

Information on the implementation of these programs and statistics regarding support services for refugees could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response. Information on the ability to study, including the process for school enrolment for refugees or children of refugees, could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

3. Ability to Travel

The FAQ states that "once a refugee arrives in the United States, they are allowed to move freely within the [US]," however, "the assistance to which they are entitled might not follow them to a new state" (US 20 Jan. 2017). Further information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

The USCIS website's information section on refugees states that

[i]f you have refugee status and want to travel outside the United States, you will need to obtain a Refugee Travel Document in order to return to the United States. If you do not obtain a Refugee Travel Document in advance of departure, you may be unable to re-enter the United States. If you return to the country from which you fled, you will have to explain how you were able to return safely. (US 23 Mar. 2017)

A document produced by the USCIS, entitled I Am a Refugee or Asylee: How Do I Get a Refugee Travel Document?, is attached to this Response (Attachment 2).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

United States (US). 23 March 2017. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). "Refugees." [Accessed 29 Mar. 2017]

United States (US). 20 January 2017. Department of State. "U.S. Refugee Admissions Program FAQs." [Accessed 29 Mar. 2017]

United States (US). 2015. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Annual Report to Congress: Office of Refugee Resettlement Fiscal Year 2015. [Accessed 29 Mar. 2015]

United States (US). N.d.a. Department of State. "U.S. Refugee Admissions Program." [Accessed 29 Mar. 2017]

United States (US). N.d.b. Department of State. "The Reception and Placement Program." [Accessed 29 Mar. 2017]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: United States – Department of Homeland Security Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Attachments

  1. United States (US). October 2013. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). I Am a Refugee or Asylee: How Do I Show my Employer that I Am Authorized to Work in the United States? [Accessed 30 Mar. 2017]
  2. United States (US). October 2013. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). I Am a Refugee or Asylee: How Do I Get a Refugee Travel Document? [Accessed 30 Mar. 2017]