Resettlement in the United States
Resettlement is a life-saving solution for the most vulnerable refugees in the world. Refugees who are resettled go to another country that has agreed to admit them and ultimately grant them permanent residence. It is also an important way to share responsibility and support the developing countries that host the majority of the world’s refugees.
The United States has a long history of welcoming refugees and has traditionally been one of the largest refugee resettlement countries in the world.
Facts and figures about refugee resettlement, including in the United States, are captured in our fact sheet.
Fact sheets from previous years are available for reference.
UNHCR’s role in resettlement and complementary pathways
UNHCR’s Multi-Country Office in Washington, covering the United States and northern Caribbean, supports refugee resettlement in a variety of ways.
Raise awareness in the U.S. about refugees in need of resettlement
The United States resettlement program is the largest in the world. UNHCR works closely with U.S. governmental agencies and NGOs responsible for resettling refugees in the U.S. We provide information to partners and the general public about refugees around the world who need resettlement and promote their acceptance to the U.S. resettlement program. The main governmental partners are the Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in the Department of Health and Human Services and the International and Refugee Affairs Division of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security.
We also work with NGOs in the U.S. who are responsible for providing a wide range of resettlement services to refugees overseas and across the U.S. There are currently nine national resettlement agencies with local offices and affiliates located throughout the U.S.
Identify and refer refugees for resettlement from the northern Caribbean region
UNHCR's office in Washington covers the United States and 18 countries and territories in the northern Caribbean. UNHCR identifies and interviews refugees in need of resettlement in the region and prepares the necessary documentation for submission to several resettlement countries. Our staff provides counseling to refugees in the resettlement process and advises them about resettlement country procedures and requirements. UNHCR works closely with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), host governments, and resettlement countries to arrange the movement of approved cases.
Provide information to many stakeholders, including NGOs, attorneys and congressional offices regarding UNHCR resettlement policies, programs and individual resettlement case status
UNHCR responds to a broad spectrum of questions relating to resettlement procedures and programs outside the U.S. We provide advice and guidance on resettlement policies, procedures and programs to U.S. governmental agencies, congressional offices, U.S. resettlement NGOs and attorneys. In some circumstances, UNHCR works with our field offices to ascertain the status of an individual’s case abroad.
Due to confidentiality reasons, UNHCR is not able to provide confidential case information to individuals in the United States or overseas. All individuals in the United States must direct their inquiries through a resettlement agency, congressional office or legal service provider. All individuals overseas should contact their nearest UNHCR office.
Work with partners to lower barriers to complementary pathways for refugees
Any refugee or forcibly displaced person who comes to live in the United States through a legal channel outside of the U.S. resettlement program is considered to come through a complementary pathway. Ideally, beneficiaries of complementary pathways can gradually attain a more sustainable permanent status and ultimately reach a durable solution.
High legal, administrative, financial and other barriers often prevent refugees and forcibly displaced people from equitably accessing these pathways and gaining admission to the United States. UNHCR works with partners to lower barriers and increase refugee access to complementary pathways to the United States, primarily focusing on education, labor, private sponsorship and family reunification pathways.