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Refugee Resettlement

Follow the footsteps of a displaced person
WHO IS A REFUGEE?

What You Need To Know

Imagine being forced to flee your country due to fear of being tormented
or even killed for who you are or what you believe in. You must leave the place that you have always called home, the family and friends that you love, your job and all familiar surroundings. This is the story for many refugees who are resettled by Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas
each year.

A refugee is defined as a person that has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion
or membership in a particular social group. Because of this strife, a refugee requests protection and must be given permission to enter the U.S. Most refugees cannot return home or are afraid to do so because of war and ethnic, tribal or religious violence.

HOW DOES A REFUGEE END UP IN KANSAS?

Before a refugee can even enter our country to resettle and rebuild his/her life, a rigorous process takes place.
Refugees flee their homeland
Due to a justifiable fear of persecution, a refugee will flee
his/her home country.
UNHCR Registration
After escaping, a refugee must then seek protection from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Protection can
come from one of three possible solutions:
  • The refugee must return to the home country once the homeland
    is deemed safe.
  • The refugee must settle into the country to which they have fled.
  • The refugee must resettle permanently into a third country (only about 1% of the world’s refugees do this).
UNHCR Interview

UNHCR legal staff conduct an initial interview to determine that the refugee has a valid, well-founded fear of persecution. The UNHCR then forwards the refugee’s name to the U.S. Embassy. An Overseas Processing Entity (OPE) begins a file on the case and forwards their information (family, medical and background) to the U.S. Embassy.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Interview

The refugee is then scheduled for an interview with a representative of USCIS. These interviews require additional background checks and ensure that the refugee is telling the truth about their claims of fear of persecution, The interview also serves to see if he/she will be granted permission to enter the U.S. Refugee Program.

Approval, Assurances and United States Reception

If a refugee is approved by USCIS, the case is allocated to one of the United State’s domestic resettlement agencies (Catholic Charities is one of these agencies).
Medical Examinations
The refugee is screened for any highly contagious diseases that may prevent them from being resettled into the U.S. They also begin to receive immunizations, if they have not been administered previously, and are treated for chronic illnesses, if any.
Cultural Orientation
Refugees attend a basic orientation to learn about U.S. life and culture. The classes range from several hours to several days, depending on the class location.
Travel to the United States
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) schedules flights for the refugee to travel to the United States. The refugee receives an interest-free loan for the cost of their plane ticket, which they will begin to repay after six months of living in the U.S.

The First Six Months

Adjusting to Life in the U.S.

Resettlement agencies like Catholic Charities will help a refugee settle into life in his/her new country.

The services we offer include:

  • Housing securement
  • Medical screenings and immunizations arrangement
  • Enrollment in school
  • Help obtaining necessary paperwork
  • Classroom instruction about life and culture in the U.S.
  • Connections with employment services
  • Assistance with applying for appropriate public benefits
  • Case management services

Resettlement agencies like Catholic Charities will help a refugee settle into life in his/her new country.

Within 1-5 years a refugee should:

  • Be settled into a job that provides financial security, or utilize our agency for job upgrade services
  • Establish a new community and need less support from our agency
  • Pay back the travel loan from his/her initial flight to the U.S.
  • Apply for citizenship at 5 years
Fast Facts

Did You Know?

  • Our agency is one of the largest of five resettlement sites throughout the state, and the only one in Johnson and Wyandotte counties.
  • One of the many refugee groups that we serve flee from Burma located in Southeast Asia. Ethnic groups represented include Chin, Karen and the Karenni.
  • We service refugees from all around the world, including those from Bhutan, Iraq, Somalia, Congo, Eritrea, Iran and Ukraine.
  • There are many volunteer opportunities within our Refugee & Immigration Services department including, welcoming refugees; assisting with move-in and housing set-up; teaching or tutoring English, Cultural Orientation or Citizenship courses; providing support to refugee farmers; becoming a Community Sponsor by providing housing help, community exploration or family advocate/mentor care.