The most successful cities are the ones that work to welcome more individuals, and the fact is the more a city and community focus on developing vibrant and diverse communities the more people will want to come to that city or community.

The most successful cities are the ones that emphasize the importance of welcoming, and the fact is the more a city and/or community does this the stronger

The most successful cities are the ones that work to welcome more, and the fact is the more a city and community focus on economic development the more people want to come to that place

Refugee 101

Who are refugees?

The U.S. definition of a refugee is: “Any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality or, in the case of a person having no nationality, is outside any country in which such person last habitually resided, and who is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.”

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Who are asylum seekers?

Asylum seekers are people who are in the US, or are received at a point of entry into the US who cannot or will not return to their country of origin due to fear of persecution. Like refugees, the fear of persecution must be based on the asylee’s race, nationality, political opinions or membership in a particular social group. Asylum seekers undergo the process of legalization while in the U.S.

Asylee Eligibility for Resettlement Assistance

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Where do refugees come from?

Refugees come to our community from all over the world.

The top five countries of origin for refugees resettled in Cleveland in FY 2014 are Iraq, Congo, Bhutan, Burma, and Somalia.

Do refugees choose their resettlement city?

Refugees do not choose their resettlement city. Unless there is a family member they are reunifying with, refugees are subject to the process of resettlement on the national level and have no choice where they are initially settled. They are, however, able to move from their initial resettlement city to another one should they choose to.

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Where can I find more information on English Language Learners?

The National Center for Family Literacy has many resources on their website, including information regarding Culture and English Language Learners, Principles of Adult Learning, Working with Adult Literacy Learners, and Working with Refugee Families.

Visit their website here.

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How are refugees resettled in the US? 

To read more about the security screening process, CLICK HERE.

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How can I learn more about refugees who are coming to Cleveland?

Below you will find links to more information about refugees who have resettled in Idaho.

*This list is not intended to be all encompassing, and the information provided on these links is the intellectual property of the organizations who produced the materials.

If you have a resource we should add, please email us by clicking HERE.

Refugees from Iraq:

Refugees from Bhutan:

Refugees from Burma/Myanmar:

Refugees from Afghanistan:

Refugees from Congo:

For backgrounders on other cultures, visit CAL’s Refugee Backgrounder Webpage.

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A Brief History of US Resettlement

From the Refugee Council USA:

The U.S. has a proud history of admitting refugees of special humanitarian concern into the country. Following the admission of over 250,000 displaced Europeans in the wake of World War II, the first refugee legislation enacted by the U.S. Congress was the Displaced Persons Act of 1948. This legislation provided for the admission of an additional 400,000 displaced Europeans.

Later laws provided for admission of persons fleeing Communist regimes from Hungary, Poland, Yugoslavia, Korea and China, and Cuba. Most of these waves of refugees were assisted by private ethnic and religious organizations in the U.S. which formed the basis for the public/private role of U.S. refugee resettlement today.

In 1975 the U.S. resettled hundreds of thousands of Indochinese refugees through an ad hoc Refugee Task Force with temporary funding.

This experience prompted Congress to pass the Refugee Act of 1980, which incorporated the United Nations definition of “refugee” and standardized the resettlement services for all refugees admitted to the U.S.

The Refugee Act provides the legal basis for today’s U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and is administered by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (BPRM) of the Department of State in conjunction with the Office of Refugee Resettlement in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and offices in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The 9 U.S. Refugee Resettlement Agencies help newly arrived refugees settle into local communities. These organizations include: Church World Service, Ethiopian Community Development Council, Episcopal Migration Ministries, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, International Rescue Committee, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops/Migration and Refugee Services, and World Relief. These organizations are also known as Voluntary Agencies (volags) or Resettlement Agencies.

Each year, the President of the United States, after consulting with Congress and the appropriate agencies, determines the designated nationalities and processing priorities for refugee resettlement for the upcoming year. The President also sets annual ceilings on the total number of refugees who may enter the U.S. from each region of the world.

Since 1975, the U.S. has resettled over 3 million refugees, with annual admissions figures ranging from a high of 207,000 in 1980 to a low of 27,110 in 2002.

The Resettlement Process

From Church World Service ( for original PDF, click here)

  1. Refugees flee their homeland: Because of a well-founded fear of persecution, a refugee will flee his/her home country.
  2. Refugees Seek Protection: A refugee seeks protection from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Protection can come from one of three possible solutions:
    • Return to the home country when homeland is deemed safe.
    • Settle into the country to which they fled.
    • Resettle permanently into a third country.
  3. Access to the US Refugee Program: A refugee can access the U.S. Refugee Program through an application process that includes referrals. The referrals can come from:
    • An individual referral from the UNHCR or any U.S. Embassy (P-1 cases).
    • A group referral where a person claims to be a member of a group of special humanitarian concern to the U.S. (P-2cases).
    • A referral from a relative in the U.S. seeking to reunite with his or her family member overseas (P-3 cases). Only certain nationalities are identified each fiscal year and only parents, spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 are eligible for a family referral.
  4. Permanent Resettlement into a Third Country: If permanent resettlement is deemed a possibility, the refugee is interviewed in his/her current place of residence by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to see if he/she will be granted permission to enter the U.S. Refugee Program.
  5.  Approval: If a refugee is approved by USCIS, the case is allocated to one of 9 domestic resettlement agencies, of which Church World Service is one.
  6.    Resettlement: The refugee’s case is assured to a local office in the U.S., where help is found for the refugee. Assurance is based on an analysis of available resources in a given community to meet the needs of specific refugees.

Screening Processes

Security: For a detailed list of steps involved in the security screening process, please access this PDF, created by the International Rescue Committee.

Medical: For a list of pre-departure and post-arrival medical screening information, visit the Refugee Health Guidelines page of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Watch this video from the Secretary of Homeland Security to see exactly what a potential refugee goes through to resettle in the U.S

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