Refugee Assistance Program

A refugee is a person who is outside their home country and who is unable or unwilling to return to 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.

-101(a)(42) of the Innigration and Nationality Act (INA)

"Refugee" is a very specific immigration status - people who have had to flee their homes because of violence and persecution, been given “refugee” status by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and who are invited to the United States by the U.S. Department of State after living, sometimes for several years, in refugee camps around the world.

Once the resettlement process starts in the refugee camps, it can take from 18-24 months. Besides extensive medical screenings and treatment, all refugees are subject to the highest level of security checks of any category of traveler to the United States, involving the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI including its Terrorist Screening Center, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State, and the Department of Defense.

Refugees in Rhode Island – Refugees come to Rhode Island from 20 to 30 countries, evenly divided among men and women, ranging in ages from infants to 80. In recent years, the number of refugees entering Rhode Island has fluctuated between 100 and 345 per year.

Working with Dorcas International Institute and the Diocese of Providence, the two official resettlement agencies in the state, the Refugee Resettlement program helps refugees and their families obtain employment, economic self-sufficiency and social integration within the shortest possible time after their arrival in Rhode Island. These services include resettlement and placement, cultural transition, language education, job development, and social services.