Humanitarian Relocation

The United States is among the top countries to welcome immigrants for resettlement based on humanitarian reasons. From the time of the Puritans to the present day, America has been a special place of refuge for people fleeing persecution, violence and war. Following the devastation of World War II, 400,000 immigrants from Europe were approved for US relocation between 1948 and 1953 under the Displaced Persons Act of 1948. After the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, more than 38,000 people from Hungary were welcomed to relocate to the United States. Starting in 1975, more than one million refugees from Southeast Asia (e.g., Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, etc.) were permitted to resettle in America long-term. From October 2001 to April 2017, the US government approved 895,000 refugees for relocation to the United States, mostly from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Government statistics for 2017 report that 53,691 refugees and 26,568 asylum-seekers were allowed to relocate to the US to start new lives.

In general, a refugee and asylum-seeker are similar in regards to why they want to relocate to the US (i.e., to escape persecution in their country of nationality), but they are different in terms of where they are located when they file their application and the procedure that is followed when they make their request to live in the USA long-term for humanitarian reasons. For example, a refugee must apply for relocation to the United States from outside of the US, while someone seeking asylum must already be physically present in the USA when they make their request to legally remain in the country. A refugee or asylum-seeker who is approved to live in the United States as a temporary resident has the opportunity to apply for an “adjustment of status” to permanent resident and receive a Green Card after living in the USA for one year following the approval of their request for US relocation. Furthermore, they can apply to become an American citizen after living in the USA with a Green Card for five years and meeting other eligibility criteria.