The United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) Consultation & Worldwide Processing Priorities

   Each year, immigration law requires that Executive Branch officials: 

  • review the refugee situation or emergency refugee situation.
  • project the extent of possible participation of the United States in resettling refugees.
  • discuss the reasons for believing that the proposed admission of refugees is justified by humanitarian concerns, grave humanitarian concerns or is otherwise in the national interest.

Following consultations (discussions) with cabinet representatives and Congress, a determination is drafted for signature by the President. The Presidential Determination establishes the overall admissions levels and regional allocations of all refugees for the upcoming fiscal year. No refugees may be admitted in the new fiscal year until the Presidential Determination has been signed.

Process Priorities

  1. Cases that are identified and referred to the program by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a United States Embassy, or a designated non-governmental organization (NGO).
  2. Groups of special humanitarian concern identified by the U.S. refugee program.
  3. Family reunification cases (spouses, unmarried children under 21, and parents of persons lawfully admitted to the U.S. as refugees or asylees or permanent residents (green card holders) or U.S. citizens who previously had refugee or asylum status). 

Refugees must generally be outside their country of origin, but some individuals can be processed in their home countries if authorized by the President.

U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) Partners and their Roles

The following agencies are involved in refugee admissions:

  • Department of State/Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) - PRM has overall USRAP management responsibility overseas and has lead in proposing admissions ceilings and processing priorities.
  • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) - UNHCR refers cases to the USRAP for resettlement and provides important information with regard to the worldwide refugee situation.