About Refugees

Refugees are people who have fled their home countries because of persecution based on their identity–race, religion, ethnicity, membership in a social group, or political opinion. They are unable to return to their homes because they would face further persecution. Refugees resettled in the United States come by invitation of the US Department of State and have a direct path to US citizenship.  They are authorized to work and remain in the US indefinitely.

Minnesota is an important state for refugee resettlement, and has resettled more than 90, 000 refugees since 1970.  Today, most refugee arrivals to Minnesota are from Burma, Somalia, Bhutan, and Iraq.  MCC Refugee Services has been welcoming refugees to Minnesota since 1985 and partners with Church World Service and Episcopal Migration Ministries. Refugees are survivors who bring hope and invaluable life experience to Minnesota.

Read on for more detailed information about the refugee process…


Refugees are people who have fled their home countries because of persecution based on their identity–race, religion, ethnicity, membership in a social group, or political opinion. They are unable to return to their homes because they would face further persecution. All have fled across a national border, and many seek safety in refugee camps. Most refugees who come to resettle in the United States have spent years, or even decades, in refugee camps.

Once they have fled their country, refugees may apply for refugee status, which is conferred by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) upon verification on their claims. The hope is that most refugees will eventually be able to return safely to their home country or settle in a neighboring region. When neither option is a possibility, refugees may apply for permanent resettlement in a third country. Fewer than half of 1% of refugees in the world have the opportunity to resettle each year.

The United States has a long commitment to the resettlement of refugees and typically welcomes about 70,000 refugees each year. Refugees applying for resettlement in the United States face a long and complex process of interviews, security screening, and cultural orientations before traveling to the US. For for more detailed information on this process, we recommend the following resources:

Overview of Refugee Resettlement–courtesy of the US Department of State
Refugee Processing Steps– courtesy of the White House
Resettlement Step by Step–courtesy of US Committee on Refugees and Immigrants

Refugees resettled in the United States come by invitation of the US Department of State and have a direct path to US citizenship.  They are authorized to work immediately upon arrival and remain in the US indefinitely. This is different from the temporary refuge sometimes granted to refugees in other countries.

All refugees resettled in the United States come through a Voluntary Agency (VOLAG), such as MCC Refugee Services. These non-profits have branches around the US that resettle refugees into local communities, following national standards of services to be provided to help refugees integrate into their new homes and achieve self-sufficiency. These agencies partner with local resources and faith communities to provide a warm welcome to new refugees.

 

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