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Refugee and Eligible Immigration Status

Who is eligible for refugee services?

  • Refugees - People who have been persecuted in their home country because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Learn how refugees come to the U.S.
  • These other immigration statuses:
    • Asylees - People who have been granted asylum in the U.S.
    • Cuban/Haitian Entrants (including Cuban Parolees*) – Some people from Cuba and Haiti who have been granted entrant status, including parole, from the Department of Homeland Security or who have a pending application for asylum.
    • Amerasians - People from Vietnam who are admitted to the U.S. as immigrants under section 584 of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 1988.
    • Victims of Human Trafficking (and certain family members) – People who were trafficked into the U.S. and got a certification from the Office of Trafficking in Persons (OTIP) under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA).
    • Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrants (SIV) – This category of Special Immigrants is for people of Iraqi or Afghan nationality who have worked directly with the United States, including interpreters and translators, who have experienced ongoing serious threats as a result of this employment.
    • Afghan Humanitarian Parolees* – Citizens or nationals of Afghanistan who have been paroled into the U.S. from July 31, 2021, through September 30, 2023.
    • Ukrainian Humanitarian Parolees* – Citizens or nationals of Ukraine who have been paroled into the U.S. from February 24, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

*Note: The term 'parolee' is not the same as criminal parole. People from other countries can ask to be “paroled” in the United States while inside or outside of the country. When people are granted parole, it means they can enter and stay temporarily in the U.S. and some may be authorized to work.

How refugees come to the U.S.

Refugees are individuals or groups of people in grave danger because their home government is unwilling or unable to protect them or may be actively persecuting them. Refugees are from all over the world, from large urban areas to rural refugee camps.

When people flee their own countries, they are interviewed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to decide if they meet refugee requirements. If they do, their names are sent to different countries accepting refugees, including the U.S.

Each year, the U.S. government allows a certain number of refugees to come to the U.S. to begin a new life. This is done through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. Many federal agencies are part of the process, including the Department of State, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security reviews each case. People who are found to be eligible to come to the U.S. will get help with travel, cultural orientation, and security and health checks.

  • Once a refugee is given a legal immigration status and approved to enter the U.S., they start working with a Refugee Resettlement Agency (RRA) to help them get settled.
  • RRAs are contracted by the federal Department of State to do the initial resettlement. This is called "reception and placement" and lasts for their first 90 days in the U.S.
  • RRAs perform essential tasks during this time, like picking up refugees at the airport, finding them a place to live, connecting them to public benefits, and helping them get furniture and other things they need for their home.
  • Many other community organizations and state agencies are involved in supporting refugee resettlement. Visit our Refugee Services page to learn about services and resources.

Oregon Refugee Resettlement Agencies