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."

How do refugees get here?

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. Before admission to the United States, each refugee undergoes an extensive interviewing, screening, and security clearance process.

This short video explains more about the refugee vetting process.

The resettlement process takes an average of two years to complete. Refugees can be sent to one of twenty eight host countries, but they do not have a choice which one. When refugees arrive in the United States, they are legal residents, and can obtain a green card after one year, and citizenship after five years.

What needs do refugees have?

Fewer than 1% of refugees are ever resettled outside of refugee camps. Those who do arrive in the United States have often spent over 15 years in refugee camps. Having suffered great loss, including the loss of their homes, livelihoods, posessions, and oftentimes family members, refugees need assistance starting over in a new country. Their initial needs are many and include food, clothing, shelter, employment, English language training, and orientation to a new community and culture.

Each refugee can receive public assistance for a maximum of 36 months during their lifetime, yet most are employed and off of assistance within 6 months of arriving.

How many refugees come to Cleveland, and what countries do they come from?

Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services resettles over 200 refuges in Cleveland each year from countries including Bhutan, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Burma, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Burundi, Eritrea, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Ukraine.  Building upon the courage and strength of these newcomers, they seek to empower them to achieve self-sufficiency and independence.

The first refugees that Joseph House helped to serve were mainly from Bosnia-Herzegovina, and also included some of the beloved “Lost Boys of Sudan”. Since that time, Joseph House has helped to resettle individuals and families from Belarus, Sudan, Tanzania, Burundi, and Congo.

(excerpts from Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services & Refugee Services Collaborative of Greater Cleveland)