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February 15, 09

NEWS / Refugee Admissions Program for Europe and Central Asia


Background

Since 1975, the U.S. has resettled over 918,000 refugees from Europe and Central Asia. Approximately two-thirds of this number came from the countries of the former Soviet Union, and the balance from other parts of Europe.

Since 1989, the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) has admitted more than 440,000 refugees under the Lautenberg Amendment, which applies to members of specified religious minorities (Jews, Evangelicals, and certain members of the Ukrainian Catholic or Ukrainian Orthodox Churches), with qualifying relatives in the United States.

Several vulnerable groups have been resettled to the United States, the largest of which was the Meskhetian Turks in the Krasnodarsky Kray (February 2004-September 2007). This group had fled ethnic violence in Central Asia in 1989. Some 12,000 were approved for refugee resettlement in the United States before the close of the program in 2007.

In FY 2008, the U.S. admitted some 2,300 refugees from Europe and Central Asia, including those under the Lautenberg Amendment in-country processing program. This represents a significant decline from the 30,000 refugees admitted from the region during FY 2001, as the number of applicants to the program from this region has sharply and steadily declined in recent years.

Refugee admissions casework preparation and post-adjudication processing in Europe is coordinated by a regional Overseas Processing Entity (OPE) based in Moscow, with refugee transportation to the U.S. provided by IOM. A Refugee Coordinator posted to U.S. Embassy Moscow provides oversight. Officers of the Department of Homeland Security/ U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (DHS/USCIS), also based in Moscow, adjudicate refugee cases throughout the region.

FY 2009 Admissions Program

The FY 2008 ceiling for Europe is 2,500. In addition to continued processing of Lautenberg Amendment cases, primarily in Russia and Ukraine, DHS/USCIS will continue to conduct interviews of Lautenberg cases and referrals from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) throughout the region.

 




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