The number of refugees allowed into the USA

Every year, the president of the United States decides the number of refugees that can come to the USA.


Madre refugiada con sus hijos adolescentes en el parque

February 2021 – President Biden restores the refugee program

President Joe Biden signed an executive order on February 4, 2021, to increase the number of refugees to 125,000 for fiscal year 2022. The fiscal year starts October 1, 2021. He is also asking Congress to consider increasing the current number of 15,000 for 2021 that was placed by the Trump administration.

The executive order has other important information to help restore America’s refugee program. It calls to:

  • improve the quality, security and transparency of the program
  • increase access to the most vulnerable populations including women, children and LGBTQI individuals
  • conduct a review of the current Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program for Iraqis and Syrians who have supported US troops overseas

The cuts to the refugee program under the Trump administration

For fiscal year 2021, President Trump ordered that only 15,000 refugees could be admitted into the USA. The fiscal year in the U.S. government starts October 1 and ends September 30 of the following year.

In 2019, the U.S. president said that the USA would admit a maximum of 18,000 refugees in the fiscal year 2020. In fact, fewer than 12,000 were admitted. The government said it had to stop refugee admissions because of COVID-19.

Before the Trump administration, the historic average maximum number of refugees allowed into the USA was around 95,000 per year.

What does the number of refugees admitted mean to you?

There are 3 things refugees in the USA should know about the number of refugees:

1 ) If you have family waiting to be resettled, it will take time for them to come to the USA.

2 ) You may still feel afraid or unwelcome in certain parts of the country. Remember you have rights and many Americans are glad you are here. Do not be discouraged!

3 ) A number of resettlement programs and non-profit organizations are getting ready to help provide services to help support refugees and immigrants.

What can you do as a refugee or immigrant in the USA?

Become a citizen

The most important thing you can do is to become a citizen. Some refugees or immigrant are afraid to apply for citizenship. But becoming a citizen is the best way to protect yourself. Once you are a citizen, you have more rights. It will also make it more possible to reunite with your family.

First find out if you are eligible to become a US citizen. Then, if you qualify, learn how to apply for citizenship. While you wait for your application to be processed, you can prepare for the citizenship test with our free online citizenship class.

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Encourage your family and friends to become citizens

If you are already a US citizen, congratulations – we are happy to have you!

Now you can help others:

  • Help your friends and family members who are not yet citizens to find out if they are eligible for US citizenship. Encourage them to start the process above.
  • If your friends or family need help with their application, they can search for free or low-cost legal help or use the online Citizenshipworks program.

Help as many people as you can!

Find resources and services in your city

Since the number of refugee is lower, some agencies will have to close or stop a part of their services. Find out if your resettlement agency near you will keep offering their services. If they are closing or stopping some services you need, you can find other services near you. Use FindHello – it has legal help, job services, healthcare and places to find food.

We will continue to offer our free website to help you and other refugees and immigrants who are already here. If you have ideas or suggestions for information you would like us to add to our website at this time, please email us.

Information on this page comes from the Department of Homeland Security, USCIS and other trusted sources. It is intended for guidance and is updated as often as possible. USAHello does not give legal advice, nor are any of our materials intended to be taken as legal advice. If you are looking for a free or low-cost lawyer or legal help, we can help you find free and low-cost legal services.