Step 1 – Escape Homeland
A refugee is a person who must flee his or her home country due to persecution or a fear of persecution due to religious and/or political beliefs, race or ethnicity. Most refugees begin their journey literally fleeing for their lives in whatever way they can travel.
Step 2 – Refugee Camp or Temporary Shelter
This next step for most refugees is a long wait, anywhere from 2-30+ years, in a refugee camp or anywhere that allows them shelter. The camps are often guarded and refugees remain in these camps until a new country grants permission to enter. If a refugee lives outside of a camp they usually must expend all savings or resources simply to live. Refugees are unable to work or earn any wages during this time.
Step 3 – UNHCR Interview & Security Screenings
Only those who can prove they are escaping persecution and pass multiple security screenings are eligible for resettlement into a receiving country. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) interviews refugees and the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) interview those who may be headed to the U.S.
Click here to view a more in-depth look at the security screening process for refugees or view the chart below:
Step 4 – Flight
Finally, some refugees receive good news. Refugees heading to the U.S. arrive on a travel loan that they must repay. Statistically, less than 1/2 of 1% of refugees in the world will be chosen for resettlement into another country.
Step 5 – Arrival in U.S.
Each arriving refugee is assigned to an agency who provides basic services during the refugee’s first 90 days in the United States. Refugees arrive either with or without a U.S. Tie (friend or family member already living in the United States). World Relief along with churches and volunteers meet new families at the airport when they land. This can be a very emotional time as the family is usually coming to the end of a very long and difficult journey towards freedom.