The District of Columbia Office of Refugee Resettlement (DCORR), is a federal program authorized by Title IV of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) (8 U.S.C. §§1521, et seq). It is designed to “provide permanent and systematic procedures for the admission to this country of refugees of special humanitarian concern to the United States, and to provide comprehensive and uniform provisions for the effective resettlement and absorption of those refugees who are admitted.” The District of Columbia Office of Refugee Resettlement (DCORR) serves to assist District of Columbia refugees with the transition to life in the United States and help them achieve self-sufficiency as quickly as possible.
DCORR provides the following services and/or benefits on a time-limited basis:
- Refugee Social Services (employment assistance, case management, and other services)
- Refugee Cash Assistance (provides a cash payment to eligible refugees comparable to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF))
- Refugee Health Promotion (supports refugee health literacy and access to health and emotional wellness services)
- Refugee Medical Assistance (provides medical assistance to eligible refugee populations)
- Refugee Medical Screening (medical screening for refugees entering the United States)
- Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) Program (help unaccompanied refugee minors to enter adulthood and achieve self-sufficiency)
- Repatriation Services (assists U.S. Citizens with return from a foreign country)
These services are provided in collaboration with a network of service providers to ensure that necessary support and assistance is given to refugees.
You may apply for benefits if you are a resident of the District of Columbia and meet the following conditions with acceptable documentation:
- admitted in the U.S. as a refugee under Section 207 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)
- granted asylum under Section 208 of the INA
- a Cuban or Haitian entrant, in accordance with the requirements of 45 CFR Part 401
- an Amerasian from Vietnam admitted to the US pursuant to Section 584 of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Appropriations Act, 1988
- a victim of a severe form of trafficking certified by the U.S. Administration for Children and Families (ACF)
- an Iraqi or Afghan Special Immigrant Visa holder (SIV)
The United States Refugee Act of 1980 provides the legal basis for the current U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) and is administered by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (BPRM) of the Department of State in conjunction with the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and offices in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). A refugee applicant has to be referred for resettlement in the United States by the USRAP. Once US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves the refugee’s application for U.S. resettlement, a refugee and his/her family undergo medical exams, which are standard for all U.S. applicants. Once all security and health checks are complete, refugees are scheduled for travel to the United States. The District primarily serves asylees who typically arrive in the U.S. on their own.
Eligible refugees in the District are referred by a third party, i.e. USCIS, attorney offices, community stakeholders, etc. After eligibility is determined by the Catholic Charities Refugee Service Center, the Refugee Social Services provider, and the case is approved by DCORR, the client will be referred for Refugee Health Screening and for Refugee Cash and Medical Assistance. Catholic Charities will maintain the case for Employment and Case Management Services.
Additional Resources for Refugees
- US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
- The National Immigration Forum
- Asylum information from US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
- Ten (10) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- US Immigration Control and Financial Responsibility Act of 1996
- Immigration Reform Act of 2007
- US Department of State Visas Services