Referrals to USRAP
Approved by USCIS
Admitted to US
*as of April 30, 2013
Process for Resettlement
In identifying Iraqi cases for referral to the USRAP, UNHCR and DOS have been prioritizing 11 categories of especially vulnerable refugees, including individuals who are affiliated with the U.S. government and religious minorities, among others.
Iraqi refugees may gain access to this program through referrals from UNHCR, a U.S. Embassy, or certain NGOs. In addition, Iraqi nationals who worked for the U.S. government, a U.S. contractor, or a U.S.-based media organization or NGO, and their family members can apply directly to the USRAP in Jordan, Egypt and Iraq without a UNHCR referral. Iraqi applicants will also be considered for resettlement if an eligible family member applies on their behalf in the United States by filing Form I-130, a Petition for Alien Relative. These latter two categories – direct application cases and Form I-130 beneficiaries – are known as Priority 2 (P-2) cases. Before 2012, the majority of cases processed by the USRAP were referrals from UNHCR. Since 2012, P-2 cases have comprised a larger share of cases.
USCIS officers are currently interviewing Iraqi refugee applicants primarily in Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq. Refugee processing in Iraq focuses on certain Iraqis who are associated with the U.S. and their family members. USCIS officers have previously interviewed Iraqi refugee applicants in Syria as well, but have not been able to work in Syria to process refugee applications since March 2011.
Determining Eligibility for Refugees
Eligibility for refugee status is decided on a case-by-case basis. A USCIS officer conducts a personal interview of the applicant designed to elicit information about the applicant's admissibility and claim for refugee status. During the interview, the officer confirms the basic biographical data of the applicant; verifies that the applicant was properly given access to the USRAP; determines whether the applicant has suffered past persecution or has a well-founded fear of future persecution on the basis of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion in his or her home country; determines whether the applicant is admissible to the United States and whether he or she has been firmly resettled in another country; and assesses the credibility of the applicant.
We are committed to conducting the most rigorous screening in order to ensure that those being admitted through the refugee program are not seeking to harm the United States. In May 2007, DHS announced and implemented an Administration-coordinated, enhanced background and security check process for Iraqi refugees applying for resettlement in the United States. The security check regime, including both biographic and biometric checks, has been enhanced periodically over the last several years as new opportunities and interagency partnerships with the law enforcement and intelligence communities have been identified. These enhancements are a reflection of the commitment of DHS and other agencies to conduct the most thorough checks possible to prevent dangerous individuals from gaining access to the United States through the refugee program. No case is finally approved until results from all security checks have been received and analyzed.
Procedures for Iraqi Citizens Currently in the U.S.
Iraqis currently in the United States, who are not able to return to Iraq because they have been persecuted or fear that they will be persecuted on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, may apply for asylum with USCIS. Information on the process of applying for asylum in the U.S. can be found on our Web site: www.USCIS.gov/asylum.
Procedures for Iraqi Citizens Living Outside of Iraq
Refugees and asylum seekers should seek to comply with all legal requirements of the country in which they are located, including registration with host governments if required. In addition, all Iraqi asylum seekers located in third countries should register with the nearest UNHCR office.
UNHCR has the international mandate to provide protection and assistance to refugees and may be able to provide a protection document and possibly other assistance if needed. For a small number of extremely vulnerable individuals, this could include referral to the USRAP or another country's resettlement program. UNHCR will identify individuals for resettlement referral based on an assessment of their vulnerability at the time of registration.
In Jordan and Egypt, direct access to the USRAP is available to direct-hire employees of the U.S. Mission in Iraq and other Iraqis who worked for the U.S. government or U.S. government contractors, or for U.S.-based media organizations or NGOs and their family members. Any Iraqi, who has fled to Jordan or Egypt because of his/her association with the U.S., is encouraged to contact the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to receive guidance. IOM can be reached at IC@iom.int. Additional information is on the DOS/PRM web: http://www.state.gov/j/prm/index.htm
USCIS staff are currently unable to travel to Syria to interview refugee applicants. Iraqi refugee applicants currently in Syria may contact the local UNHCR office if they are in immediate danger or have concerns regarding assistance, protection, or resettlement. Iraqi refugees who decide to leave Syria should contact the RSC and UNHCR office in the country of their new location. USCIS will continue to process such cases in the new location.
Procedures for Iraqi Citizens Currently in Iraq
In Iraq, direct access to the USRAP is available to direct-hire employees of the U.S. Mission in Iraq and other Iraqis who worked for the U.S. government or U.S. government contractors, or for U.S.-based media organizations or NGOs, and their family members. Any Iraqi, who believes he/she is at risk or has experienced serious harm as a result of association with the U.S., is encouraged to contact the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to receive guidance. IOM can be reached in Iraq at IC@iom.int.
Additional information is on the DOS/PRM web: http://www.state.gov/j/prm/index.htm
Special Immigrant Visas for Iraqis
Iraqi nationals who supported the U.S. armed forces or Chief of Mission authority as translators or interpreters, or Iraqi nationals who were or are employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq on or after March 20, 2003, for a period of at least one year may be eligible for Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) processing. The SIV program is separate and distinct from the USRAP. However, certain Iraqi SIV recipients are eligible for the same resettlement assistance, entitlement programs, and other benefits as refugees admitted under the refugee program.
Additional information regarding the SIV program may be found on the following pages;
More information can also be found on the following Department of State pages;
- Asylum Information
- Fact Sheet: Expanded Special Immigrant Status for Afghan and Iraqi Translators and Interpreters
- Special Immigrant Visas for Iraqi and Afghan Translators/Interpreters - FAQs For Applicants Living Overseas
- Special Immigrant Visas for Iraqis - Employed by/on Behalf of U.S. Government
- Worldwide Refugee Admissions Processing System FAQs on Iraqi Refugee Program
- USCIS Celebrates World Refugee Day 2012 with Special Naturalization Ceremonies
- USRAP Consultation and Worldwide Processing Priorities
- Questions and Answers: Refugees
- Refugee Eligibility Determination
- Request for Review Tip Sheet
- Immigration and Nationality Act
- Iraqi Refugee ProcessingFact Sheet
- Basic Eligibility for Section 204(l) Relief for Surviving Relatives
- I-730, Refugees/Asylee Relative Petition
- I-485, Application to Register for Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
- I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
Other USCIS Links
- How Do I Get a Refugee Travel Document? (623 KB PDF)
- RAIO CT Guidance for Adjudicating LGBTI Refugee and Asylum Claims (371 KB PDF)
- Green Card through Refugee or Asylum
- How Do I Show My Employer That I Am Authorized to Work in the U.S.? (686 KB PDF)
- News: Asylums & Refugees
- Green Card for a Refugee
- Family of Refugees and Asylees