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Refugee Facts

Refugees in America

The U.S. resettles the most vulnerable refugees and has been the world's resettlement leader for decades. 

Welcoming the most vulnerable

The United States resettlement program is the largest in the world and the U.S. has been the global leader in resettling refugees since the 1970s.

Refugee resettlement to the U.S. is traditionally offered to the most vulnerable refugee cases including women and children at risk, women heads of households, the elderly, survivors of violence and torture and those with acute medical needs.  


refugees resettled to the U.S. in 2022, double the previous year

Balancing the need for security

The process of refugee resettlement to the U.S. is a lengthy and thorough process that takes approximately two years and involves numerous U.S. governmental agencies.

Refugees do not choose the country in which they would like to live. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency identifies the most vulnerable refugees for resettlement and then makes recommendations to select countries.

Once a refugee is recommended to the U.S. for resettlement, the U.S. government conducts a thorough vetting of each applicant. This process takes between 12 and 24 months and includes:

  • Screening by eight federal agencies including the State Department, Department of Homeland Security and the FBI
  • Six security database checks and biometric security checks screened against U.S. federal databases
  • Medical screening
  • Three in-person interviews with Department of Homeland Security officers


number of U.S. federal agencies involved in the screening process of refugees

A place to call home

Since 1975, the U.S. has welcomed more than three million refugees from all over the world, and these refugees have built new lives for their families in all 50 states.

Refugees and their families have woven themselves into the fabric of American society. They are our neighbors, our friends and our colleagues. They are teachers, business owners and contribute positively to communities across the country.

3 million

number of refugees who have resettled in the U.S. since 1975

"Refugees are vulnerable people, but due to the generosity of the American people we are able to provide refugees with help and hope as they flee devastating circumstances and prepare them for independence in a new and permanent home."

–Anne-Marie Grey. Executive Director and CEO, USA for UNHCR

Giving back to their new community

Take a walk through City Hall in Salt Lake City on any given day and you’re likely to run into Fatima Dirie. 

“These are the faces of refugees in the community sharing their story,” Fatima explains while standing in front of a series of photos of newly resettled refugees who now call Utah home. “So, anyone who comes here, they know that refugees feel welcome and they are part of the city.”

A former refugee from Somalia, Fatima was resettled to Salt Lake City with her family in 1997 while still in middle school. The family escaped war back home, first finding refuge in neighboring Kenya, then ultimately finding safety and an opportunity to rebuild in Utah.

More than twenty years later, Fatima has built a career on helping empower refugees.

“I didn't have mentors, I didn't have guidance,” Fatima recalls. “It's important for me to reflect on what I didn't have and to share what I’ve learned with high school and college students.”

“I went into this work to see others grow, to see others become individuals who are contributing and giving back to their communities. For me, I feel like I'm just guiding them to that direction. It's the right thing for me to do.”

All 50

states have welcomed resettled refugees into their communities

"I realized that I had a passion for helping my community. I was a refugee myself, it was important for me to work with refugees in my community to make them feel welcome, help them navigate the system and make sure they're empowered."

–Fatima Dirie. Civic Leader, American Citizen, Former Refugee

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