Finding help for refugees can be challenging.
In addition to the common obstacles of moving to a new home, refugees face the additional challenges of culture shock, navigating a new community, finding resources for their family members, locating work, and potential language barriers. Although these are significant hurdles, we can assist in finding help for refugees with a variety of resources.
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In this article, we’ll discuss refugees in the United States, how to apply for asylum, what resources can offer help for refugees, and some other things to consider if you’re a recently relocated person in the United States. Because there are many contributors to a meaningful, happy life, we’ll focus on core resources that offer refugees stability through education, employment, health, and legal resources.
Refugees in the United States
In the last few years, the rate of refugee resettlement in the U.S. has dropped to historic lows, according to the Pew Research Center.
The U.S. admitted about 76,200 refugees between Jan. 20, 2017, to Sept. 30, 2019. By comparison, the U.S. admitted nearly 85,000 refugees in 2016 alone. Since the U.S. Congress passes the Refugee Act in 1980, the United States has admitted more than 3.1 million refugees in total.
From where refugees relocate varies from year to year based, in part, on various crises around the world. In the last few years, the United States has welcomed many refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burma, Ukraine, and Bhutan.
How refugees can apply for asylum status
United States refugee resettlement is led in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and several U.S. government agencies, including the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services.
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People are eligible to seek asylum in the United States if they suffer persecution or fear persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, their social group, or political opinions.
To apply for asylum, you must be eligible and file a Form I-589 Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal within one year of arriving in the United States. There is no fee to apply for asylum in the United States. Refugees seeking asylum may also include their spouse and children in their application.
Employment resources for refugees
Employment will help you and your family find stability and more easily integrate into U.S. society.
But before you find work in the U.S., you must apply for employment authorization. To obtain employment authorization, refugees must file a Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization.
After you file for employment authorization, there are a variety of programs that can help refugees find employment, including the Refugee Career Pathways program. The program was created by the Office of Refugee Resettlement in 2018 to help refugees obtain the necessary credentials, education, experience, and job skills to find employment in various professional fields. The program has participating partners such as universities, community centers, and charitable organizations around the United States.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement also offers the Refugee Support Services program, which offers a variety of resources to help new arrivals in the U.S., including employment.
Education resources for refugees
The United States Department of Education has many resources to help refugees find educational opportunities, including K-12 education, higher education, and more. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services also provides a helpful guide that details various educational resources for new arrivals.
In the U.S., children can attend public school free of charge from kindergarten to grade 12. There are various programs to help a child enter and succeed in the educational system, including preschool for low-income children, free and low-cost meals, and other resources.
High education in the United States refers to two-year community colleges, four-year colleges, and universities. There are also a variety of scholarships for immigrants and refugees that can help pay for higher education.
The Cultural Orientation Resource Exchange (CORE) offers other general educational resources about living in the United States. CORE’s cultural orientation program offers such information as community services, learning English, navigating transportation, and cultural adjustment.
Health resources for refugees
Finding accurate and dependable health information in a new country can be difficult — especially if you don’t know your community that well or have a solid grasp of English.
The United States Centers for Disease Control has built an extensive toolkit that is intended to offer help for refugees and recently relocated people find up-to-date health information in refugees’ native languages. The toolkit provides timely, vetted information on a variety of health issues in 12 languages, including Spanish, Arabic, Burmese, Farsi, and several others. Its resources include information on the seasonal flu, COVID-19, Measles, Hepatitis B, and several other ailments.
You can find the toolkit and other health information for refugees here.
Legal resources for refugees
Oftentimes, refugees will need some help navigating the United States’ complex legal system to maintain their legal residency. The Immigration Advocates Network helps low-income people that have recently relocated to the U.S. and created this tool to help you find free or low-cost legal aid.
Unfortunately, refugees and immigrants are often targets of discrimination, including employment, educational, and housing discrimination. If you feel you’ve been discriminated against, here’s a lengthy list of pro bono legal services for refugees and immigrants in the United States.
Other resources for refugees by state
As we mentioned above, this isn’t a comprehensive list of all the resources that can offer help for refugees and people that have relocated to the United States. To find more resources for refugees and recently relocated people, check out this helpful guide from the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement that breaks out resources for 49 states.
The Cultural Orientation Resouce Exchange also has a Resettlement Navigator that offers many helpful guides and resources in Arabic, Burmese, Dari, English, Farsi, Kinyarwanda, Russian, Swahili, and Somali.
While relocating to a new country can be a difficult and traumatic experience, know that there are many organizations and people that want to help your transition into the United States.
In this article, we discussed refugees in the United States, how to apply for asylum, what resources can offer help for refugees, and some other things to consider if you’re a recently relocated person in the United States.