Refugees are individuals or groups of people in grave danger because their home government is either unwilling or unable to protect them. They are from all over the world, from large urban areas to rural refugee camps.
The U.S. government allows certain categories and numbers of refugees to come to the U.S. each year in order to begin a new life. There are many federal agencies involved in that process:
Once a refugee is granted permission to come to the U.S., and they have been granted a legal immigration status, a host of community organizations and state agencies take over the resettlement and acculturation process.
Voluntary Organizations called "Volag" are contracted to do the initial resettlement. The Volag perform such essential tasks as picking-up the refugees at the airport, finding them a place to live and helping to furnish their home with basic necessities. The initial Volag resettlement process lasts 90 days.
The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement provides up to eight months of cash and medical assistance to newly arriving refugees. These federal funds are administered through the states. Refugees may be able to receive any other assistance that is offered to U.S. citizens – this includes food assistance in the form of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
States may provide other services beyond the initial eight months, such as assistance with job search, employment acculturation, English language classes, citizenship and naturalization help.