U.S. Law Center

What are the process priorities for refugees?

Refugees are people who face the fear of persecution in their home countries. In order to be considered, you must be referred to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). USRAP uses three categories of processing priorities when determining which refugees should be allowed to interview for entry into this country. The following guide explains the currently used priorities so incoming refugees can have a greater understanding of the overall process. 

Priority 1

Priority 1 refugee status is also referred to as individual selection. In this case, the person seeking refugee status can be from any country and must be recognized by one of three entities. They are the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, a United States Embassy in the person's current country or country of origin, or a designated non-governmental organization. The circumstances the person is fleeing will be reviewed to determine whether resettling in the U.S. is in their best interest. 

Priority 2

Priority 2 status refers to groups as opposed to individuals. This usually involves specific ethnic groups or classes of people who are persecuted against as a whole in their country of origin. These refugee groups are often recognized by the Department of State and are considered as having a special humanitarian concern for being allowed into this country. 

Priority 3

Priority 3, the final group, are family members of people who were already admitted into the U.S. as refugees. The goal of this priority is to reunite families, which is assumed to be in the best interest of all parties. This group includes unmarried children under the age of 21, spouses, and parents of those who were lawfully admitted into this country as refugees. 

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