Refugee Resettlement

About Refugee Resettlement

Refugees are individuals who have fled their countries of origin and who meet the United Nations' criteria of having a "well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion."  The 2008 World Refugee Survey reports that there are more than 14 million refugees worldwide. 

Each year the President of the United States authorizes the admission of a certain number of refugees into the country.  This determination is based on a consultative process between Congress, the President and various federal agencies.  In recent years, the U.S. has accepted between 50,000 to 75,000 refugees per year.  Before admission to the U.S., each refugee undergoes an extensive interviewing, screening and security clearance process. 

Refugees, having suffered great loss, including loss of their homes, livelihoods, possessions and oftentimes families, need assistance starting over in a new country.  Their initial needs are many: food, clothing, shelter, employment, ESL, and orientation to a new community and culture.  In partnership with its affiliates, and the United States Department of State/Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, USCCB/MRS resettles approximately 30% of the refugees that arrive in the U.S. each year.  The Catholic refugee resettlement network includes over 100 diocesan offices across the country and in Guam and Puerto Rico. 

USCCB/MRS continually searches for innovative and cost-effective approaches to help refugees rebuild their lives. Over the years, we have found the best approach to resettlement is one that emphasizes early employment for refugees as the means to self-sufficiency while addressing their transitional needs. The courage and resiliency of refugees are shown in the high rate of employment found among refugees at just six months after their arrival in the U.S.
Resettling refugees provides an extraordinary opportunity for countless Americans to take an active part in offering a caring and supportive environment for refugees as they begin new lives. Without volunteers and resources from the community and parishes, USCCB/MRS and the diocesan resettlement offices would be unable to accomplish the tremendous task of giving refugees new hope and the opportunity to begin again.

Contact a resettlement program in your community to learn more or to help in these efforts!

You can also help by making a tax-deductible contribution to the National Catholic Fund for Migration and Refugee Services.

Refugee Admissions

In FY 2010 (October 1, 2009 – September 30, 2010), the U.S. received 73,311 refugees, of which USCCB/MRS resettled 20,823 (28%).

For FY 2011, President Obama set the admissions ceiling at 80,000 refugees.  For more information, see the FY 2011 Presidential Determination and Proposed Refugee Admissions for FY 2011 Report to Congress.

FY 2012 admissions planning is well underway.  Read the testimony Anastasia Brown, Director of Resettlement Services gave on behalf of USCCB/MRS at the FY 2012 Refugee Admission's Hearing.  USCCB/MRS called attention to several vulnerable populations in need of a durable solution, namely resettlement.  Of particular concern to USCCB are the Rohingya Burmese in Bangladesh, Chin Burmese in India, Somalis in Kenya, Colombians in Central and South America, Iraqis in the Middle East, Haitians, and unaccompanied refugee minors.

Fiscal Year


U.S. Arrivals





12,843 (23.91%)




21,008 (24.72%)




18,114 (25.9%)




17,953 (25.7%)