9 FAM 203.3 

Roles and Responsibilities

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(Office of Origin:  CA/VO)

9 FAM 203.3-1  Department of State

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The Department of State develops, coordinates, and manages U.S. resettlement policy and programs for refugee admission to the United States.

(1)  Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM):  The Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) is responsible for developing and coordinating refugee admissions policies and for management of resettlement programs.  (See 1 FAM 520, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), for a complete statement of the bureau’s organization and responsibilities.)

(a)  PRM/A – Office of Admissions:  The Office of Admissions in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM/A) develops, implements, manages, and oversees policies and programs for overseas refugee processing, transportation, and initial domestic reception and placement.  (See 1 FAM 527, Office of Refugee Admissions (PRM/A).)

(i)     Overseas Refugee Processing:  Program officers with overseas responsibilities within PRM/A manage and oversee programs in assigned geographic areas for the selection, processing, and transportation of refugees to be admitted to the United States.  These program officers also supervise and coordinate closely with operations of Resettlement Support Centers (RSCs) under cooperative agreement or MOU with PRM. 

(ii)    Domestic Reception and Placement:  Program officers with domestic responsibilities in PRM/A manage and oversee the domestic reception and placement program.  PRM/A implements the program through cooperative agreements with national resettlement agencies that maintain networks of affiliates throughout the United States.  These program officers coordinate with the Office of Refugee Resettlement in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as with coordinators of state refugee programs and local providers of services to refugees in the United States.

(b)  RPC - Refugee Processing Center:  The Refugee Processing Center (RPC), located in Arlington, Virginia, is the central data repository for all overseas and domestic resettlement operations.  Under PRM/A, the RPC manages the Worldwide Refugee Admissions Processing System (WRAPS).  Over the course of CY 2021, data from WRAPS will be migrating to PRM's new cloud-based refugee case management system, START.  START will be the Department of State database for all refugee applicants processed for resettlement consideration to the United States.  The system tracks cases and generates reports on case status and worldwide admissions levels for program managers.  The RPC performs security name checks for all refugee applicants.  RPC manages the process of allocating refugee cases to the domestic resettlement agencies, assigns case and alien numbers, and assists consular officers in processing follow-to-join refugees (also known as Visas 93s).

9 FAM 203.3-2  Overseas Posts

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a. General Post Support:  Diplomatic missions overseas may play a variety of roles in processing derivative asylees and refugees for resettlement to the United States.  Missions may assist in processing individuals identified for resettlement as follow-to-join asylees/refugees (Visas 92/93, conduct security reviews of the sites identified for refugee processing, or provide logistical support to TDY USCIS officers conducting refugee interviews).

b. Embassy Officers Handling of Refugee and Asylee Cases:  While many overseas U.S. missions have an interest in global humanitarian issues related to refugees, direct mission responsibility for processing individual cases for refugee resettlement is limited.  Unless the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) has designated a Regional Refugee Coordinator, embassy officers usually handle only two types of cases:

(1)  Individuals under consideration for referral by an U.S. embassy under Priority 1 (see 9 FAM 203.4, Referrals for Refugee Status, for more on Embassy refugee referrals and direct requests for refuge or asylum at missions overseas); and

(2)  V92 and V93 cases (derivative family members who are beneficiaries of Form I-730 Refugee/Asylee Relative Petitions from refugee and asylee relatives already in the United States), which are processed by USCIS and/or consular sections at post (see 9 FAM 203.5, Casework for Follow-to-Join Asylees and Refugees, for guidance on processing cases for family members of asylees or refugees). 

c.  Refugee Coordinators:  Refugee coordinators (Refcoords) assigned to selected U.S. embassies overseas support the activities of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), including the Office of Admissions (PRM/A).  In the geographic area of responsibility designated by PRM, the refugee coordinator may refer individuals for refugee processing or accept referrals of individuals from:

(1)  The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR);

(2)  U.S. Embassies; and

(3)  Certain non-governmental organizations working with refugees.

d. (U) Designated Refugee Officers:  In countries where the United States regularly processes refugees for resettlement but a Refcoord is not present, posts generally designate an officer to handle refugee admissions issues.  This Refcoord maintains liaison with PRM/A, the Refugee Processing Center (RPC), and the Resettlement Support Center (RSC), as well as the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (DHS/USCIS) officers, UNHCR, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

9 FAM 203.3-3  USCIS, HHS, and Other Entities

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a. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services:  The Secretary of Homeland Security has delegated the authority to determine refugee eligibility and admissibility to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  Under USCIS regulations, immigration officers must interview every applicant presented for resettlement and decide if the applicant is eligible to be admitted to the United States as a refugee.  USCIS officers who have received specialized refugee training conduct refugee adjudications overseas.  There is supervisory review of the decision, but there is no appeal from a denial.

b. HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement:  The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), established under INA 411, within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), funds and administers programs for resettled refugees through the states and other service providers.  These programs help refugees to achieve economic self-sufficiency, develop English skills and otherwise integrate into communities in the United States.  ORR is also responsible for safeguarding the welfare of refugee children who are resettled unaccompanied by a parent or other close adult relatives, and for services to victims of severe forms of human trafficking.

c.  International Organization for Migration:

(1)  The International Organization for Migration (IOM) provides a wide variety of overseas processing services under a Memorandum of Understanding with PRM.  IOM serves as a Resettlement Support Center (RSC) in several locations, conducts or oversees medical screening in many locations, handles transportation arrangements and pre-embarkation inspections for all refugees traveling to the United States, and administers the Department’s refugee travel loan program.

(2)  IOM contact information for the U.S. refugee program is:

122 East 42nd Street, Suite 1610

New York, New York 10168

Telephone:  (212) 681-7000

Fax:  (212) 867-5887

Email:  onewyork@iom.int

d. Resettlement Support Centers (Non-Governmental Partners Under Cooperative Agreement):

(1)  Resettlement Support Centers (RSC) provide processing services under the direction of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM).  They are operated by non-governmental organizations and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

(2)  All RSCs have direct electronic access to WRAPS or START to facilitate refugee case processing. The RSC also maintains paper refugee files for the State Department until the refugee case either travels to the United States or case is closed.

(3)  The RSC screens applicants, prepares cases for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) adjudication, schedules refugee interviews with USCIS, prepares approved cases for travel, including medical screening, obtains an assurance from the resettlement agency in the United States and provides cultural orientation.  The RSC coordinates directly with PRM, the Refugee Processing Center (RPC), USCIS, panel physicians, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), as needed.

(4)  RSC Circuit Rides:  At posts where the United States processes fewer refugees, an RSC resident in another country may send staff to your country to prepare cases and support temporary duty officers from USCIS.  These missions are known as “circuit rides.”  USCIS will request country clearance from the post in advance of their visits and inform the post if they need logistical support.

(5)  Processing at Posts without an RSC:  If an Embassy refers an individual for consideration for resettlement as described in 9 FAM 203.4-2, U.S. Embassy Referrals to the U.S. Refugee Program, PRM’s Office of Admissions (PRM/A) details an RSC staff member to prepare the case and assist the adjudicating officer from USCIS.  Contact PRM/A for further guidance.