Refugees are defined under international law as being outside their home country and having a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Refugees are legal immigrants to the U.S. The President of the United States authorizes the number of refugees to be admitted to the U.S. every year, and from which parts of the world. See “Presidential Determination 2019” for more information.


Refugee 101

To learn more about refugees, click here to sign up for a virtual Refugee 101 by Tucson Refugee Ministry.

What is the difference between a refugee, asylee, SIV and immigrant?

  • Refugee: Any person outside his or her country of nationality who is unable or unwilling to return to that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution.
  • Asylee: A person who seeks permission to stay in another country.
  • SIV: Available to persons who worked with U.S. Armed Forces.
  • Immigrant: A person who comes to a country to permanently settle from another country.


A visual representation of the life of a refugee.

How Refugees Get to the U.S.

Refugee Status Determination, or RSD, is the legal or administrative process by which governments or UNHCR determine whether a person seeking international protection is considered a refugee under international, regional or national law. RSD is often a vital process in helping refugees realize their rights under international law. If you are approved as a refugee, you will receive a medical exam, a cultural orientation, help with your travel plans, and a loan for your travel to the United States. After you arrive, you will be eligible for medical and cash assistance. For more information on benefits available to refugees, please see the Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement page.

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Eligibility for US Resettlement

Discussion of eligibility criteria, exclusion criteria, and how refugees are processed.

Cultural Orientations to Life in The US

Refugees are provided a cultural orientation to their new lives in the United States. These orientations are part of a mandatory package of services for refugees categorized as “Reception and Placement.” To access comprehensive information and resources about cultural orientations and services, visit the Cultural Orientation Resource Center website.

Arizona Refugee Arrivals Report – Updated 08/17/2020

This report shows the numbers of refugees from all countries who have resettled in Arizona since the beginning of the resettlement program. The most common countries refugees in Arizona come from today include the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burma, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia, Iraq, and Burundi.

Proposed Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2019

Report to Congress

UNHCR Global Trends on Forced Displacement in 2019

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees report on Displaced People for 2019