Refugee Resettlement FAQ

A “refugee” is a person who is outside his country and who is unwilling or unable to return because of persecution, or well-founded fear of persecution, on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. After one year of refugee status in the United States, refugees are required to apply to adjust to lawful permanent resident status

Before an individual can resettled in the United States as a refugee, he must first be vetted through rigorous overseas processing and admissions standards (average length of time from referral to arrival in U.S. is 18-24 months).

  1. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees makes referrals to a U.S. Embassy or Non-Governmental Organization.
  2. The State Department then collects biographic and other information from eligible applicants to present to DHS for in-person interview and security screening.
  3. DHS officers then interview the eligible individuals to determine whether applicants meet the U.S. definition of a refugee.
  4. The highest level of security check is conducted on each applicant, including biometric and biographical checks.

All DHS approved refugees then undergo a health screening and receive information on American culture and the importance of self-sufficiency before being flown to the U.S. for resettlement.

The federal government funds the services associated with the RRP. The RRP, located in the SCDSS Office of Economic Services, performs and coordinates activities to enable refugees and others resettled in South Carolina to reach economic self-sufficiency and social self-reliance, as defined by ORR, as rapidly as possible.

The US Department of State has authorized nine domestic voluntary resettlement organizations, which total more than 350 affiliated offices across the United States, for placement of refugees in the United States. The following organizations are the only entities authorized to allow refugee resettlement services in the U.S.:

  1. Church World Service (CWS)
  2. Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC)
  3. Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM)
  4. Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)
  5. International Rescue Committee (IRC)
  6. US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI)
  7. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS)
  8. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)
  9. World Relief Corporation (WR)
  1. Lutheran Services in Columbia – since 1992.
  2. World Relief in Spartanburg – since 2015.

Refugee nationalities resettled in South Carolina: Afghani, Belarusian, Berundi, Bhutanese, Burmese, Congolese, Eritrean, Guatemalan, Honduran, Iraqi, Kenya, Moldovan, Somali, Nepali, Rwandan, Salvadoran, Syrian, and Ukrainian.