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.

Refugee mother with her teenage kids in park

March 2020 – The US State Department said it has stopped admitting refugees into the USA. We will keep updating this page if there is more news.

The number of refugees for the fiscal year 2019–2020

Here is a September 2019 update on the maximum number of refugees:

1) The US president has proposed to the US Congress that the USA admit a maximum of 18,000 refugees in the year 2020.

The president’s proposal includes:

  • 5,000 refugees who are persecuted because of religious beliefs
  • 4,000 Iraqis who are in danger because they have helped the USA
  • 1,500 people from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras
  • 7,500 other refugees who have already been cleared for resettlement

The official announcement will be made after Congress responds to the proposal from the president. We will post the announcement when it is published.

2) A new executive order says places in the USA can choose not to resettle refugees.

The US president made another announcement about refugee resettlement today. The White House issued an executive order. The order said that refugees will only be resettled in states and cities that agree to receive refugees.

What does this executive order mean for refugees?

The executive order means that states, cities, and towns in the USA do not have to provide resettlement services to refugees when they arrive in the USA. It does not mean that refugees are not allowed to live in those places.

The number of refugees in 2018–2019

The maximum  number of refugees for the fiscal year 2018–2019 was 30,000. On October 4th, 2018, the White House announced the maximum number of refugees that will be allowed to come to the United States for the next fiscal year. The fiscal year runs from October 1, 2018, until the end of September 2019. The White House said it will only allow 30,000 refugees to be resettled.

The number of refugees will be divided up by different regions. This is how the numbers are divided:

  • Africa  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11,000
  • Near East/South Asia  . . . . . . . .  9,000
  • East Asia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4,000
  • Europe and Central Asia . . . . . .  3,000
  • Latin America/Caribbean . . . . .  3,000

Since the refugee program began, this is the smallest number of refugees allowed by the government to come to the USA to build new lives. A number this low will probably cause several of the refugee resettlement agencies to close their offices.

Important note: 30,000 is the maximum number allowed. It does not mean that 30,000 will be let in as refugees. By April 1, 2019, halfway through the fiscal year, only about 12,000 refugees had been admitted to the USA.

What does this mean for 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 is will be harder for them to come to the USA.

2 ) You may feel afraid or unwelcome right now. However, 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 may not be able to provide their 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 right now 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.

man and woman with flags clapping
Free US citizenship test class

USAHello has a free online class to help you get ready for the naturalization (citizenship) test.

Go to the class

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.