Application Process

Process Mired in Red Tape

The U.S. Refugee Resettlement program has been slow to respond to the worst refugee crises since World War II. Layers of bureaucratic requirements have been added over decades to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, resulting in a lengthy, onerous approval process. It can take three years or more for the government to process an applicant's paperwork. Often refugees are forced to re-tell harrowing stories over and over, needlessly re-traumatizing them. Typically they are required to undergo the same medical exams numerous times. 

Providing a fair and humane process for asylum seekers has been a cornerstone of U.S. policy. Currently, however, individuals who come directly to the U.S. seeking protection are immediately detained in prison-like facilities. 

This is unacceptable for a humanitarian program and dishonors our history as the world’s leader in offering safe haven. 

Obstacles to Admission

Moreover, U.S. policy excludes refugees under terrorism-related inadmissibility grounds – known as the “TRIG” bars – that are so broadly written that they preclude some of the very people the U.S. program was designed to help. TRIG bars contained in The Patriot Act were enacted to address security concerns but have been expanded to the point that they now preclude individuals who fought oppression in their home countries or who interacted with insurgents in the smallest of ways, including something as insignificant as giving someone a bowl of rice, even under duress.

These TRIG bars don’t enhance our nation’s security. Rather, they have delayed or prevented thousands of refugees from coming to the United States. HIAS Statement to the House Judiciary Committee