July 13, 2016
In 2016, the US plans to accept 85,000 refugees from around the world. But before a refugee can come and live in the US, they must go through the process of resettlement. Resettlement is the relocation of refugees to a new country where they can have permanent residence.
Before refugees are accepted to be resettled, they will have a series of interviews with the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), the United States RSC (Resettlement Support Center), and the DHS (Department of Homeland Security). The interview process is incredibly thorough and detailed, and each applicant is reviewed individually before they are granted acceptance to the US.
Ultimately, the DHS has the final say of whether or not a refugee will be admitted to the United States. Once they are approved, each person goes through a medical screening to determine if they have any medical conditions or diseases that must be treated before arriving in the US.
The application process for resettlement can take months or, in some cases, years. But getting accepted for resettlement in the US is just the beginning for a refugee’s new life in the United States.
Once a refugee is ready to come to the US, they will be assigned to a resettlement agency that will set up their initial transition to the United States. Here in Grand Rapids, Bethany Christian Services and Samaritas (Lutheran Social Services) are the main resettlement agencies working with new refugees.
Resettlement agencies work with refugees in their first 90 days in the country, after which refugees are left to support themselves. In those first three months here, resettlement agencies will help them with basic services such as getting their social security cards, setting up their health benefits or public assistance, and enrolling their children in school.
Resettlement agencies will also set up a housing situation for each family, covering the housing costs for the first 90 days, and will aid family members in finding employment. Many refugees end up working in entry level positions, even for those who had professional careers back in their home countries.
The goal of resettlement agencies is to have refugees become self-sufficient in a matter of months, but this can prove to be challenging. While resettlement agencies do a tremendous job assisting refugees when they first arrive, they often do not have the resources to continue support past their first 90 days in the US.
Thrive has partnered with these resettlement agencies to continue providing support. Our hope is that we can work with refugees after the 90 day resettlement period, whether that is by teaching them English, assisting them with government paperwork, or helping set up medical appointments. Thrive wants to continue the support provided by resettlement agencies in order to help refugees succeed in their new lives here in the US.
Written by Katie Ulrich