Frequently Asked Refugee Questions

Q: What is the definition of a Refugee?
A: “Refugee is a person who has fled from his or her country because of a ‘well-founded fear of being persecuted’, often for reasons of race, religion, nationality, or political opinion.”


Q: Who are refugees and displaced persons?
A: They are men, women and children fleeing war, persecution and political upheaval. They are uprooted with little warning, enduring great hardship during their flight. They become refugees when they cross borders and seek safety in another country. They are displaced when they are forced to flee their homes, but remain within the borders of their native country.


Q: How are refugees vetted before they come to the U.S.?
A: The largest global refugee resettlement program belongs to the United States. Refugee resettlement in the U.S. is a long process. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) refers refugee cases to a Resettlement Support Center (RSC), representing the U.S. Department of State. The final decision regarding refugee resettlement to the U.S. is made by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The vetting process for each individual refugee involves:

  • They must receive a referral to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for consideration as a refugee. For more information on the referral criteria, see the USRAP Consultations and Worldwide Processing Priorities page.
  • Eight government agencies — including the National Counterterrorism Center, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and State Department
  • Six security databases
  • Five separate background checks
  • Four biometric security checks — that means fingerprints, checked against databases Three separate, in-person interviews
  • Two interagency security checks running data against criminal, intelligence, and terrorism databases


Q: Why do refugees come to the U.S. / Utah?
A: Refugees come to the U.S. / Utah to seek shelter, and make it their new home. Priorities are given to the refugees who are especially vulnerable, including those who fled violence or persecution and those who cannot safely stay where they are or return home. Over 72% refugees in 2016 were women and children. Many U.S. refugees are single mothers; survivors of torture; those in urgent need of medical treatment; religious or ethnic minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex persons; or others jeopardized by violence and persecution.


Q: Which countries do the refugees arriving in the U.S. come from?
A: . Since 2010, refugees admitted under the United States Refugee Admissions Program are from 79 countries with over 70% from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, Burma, Iraq, and Somalia. The United States will welcome 50,000 refugees in Fiscal Year 2017.


Q: How many refugees resettle in Utah?
A: Between January 1998 and September 2016, over 20,000 refugees resettled in Utah.

Q: How do refugees get resettled?
A: Reference and more information:

Q: How can I get involved in working with refugees?

  1.  Get Informed
  2. Help Locally
  3. Donate


Additional References:
40 Ways to Help Refugees
4 Simple Ways to Help Refugees in Your Community
I was a stranger – LDS refugee relief effort

Q: What are some of the local service centers for Utah?
Refugee Services Office

Last Updated: 9/4/18