Posted December 18, 2022
December 18th is recognized as International Migrants Day. This day was made to bring awareness to the individuals and families who have traveled from around the world to seek help and hope for a better life in another country.
This year alone, the United States has had over 2.5 million migrants coming to its borders with the hope of starting a new life.
Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) has been helping resettle refugees since 1948 throughout Northeast Ohio.
There are many different types of migrants, and it can be important to know the difference in what each status means. MRS works closely with refugees, asylees/asylum seekers, special immigrant visa holders (SIVs), and Afghan and Ukrainian humanitarian parolees.
No matter what their status is, the individuals are ultimately here to gain safety and a new way of living, but what is the difference between them?
According to MRS Program Director of Resettlement Services, Trevor Davis, there are a few things that differ in each population:
- Refugees: “Refugees are individuals who have fled their home country due to conflict, persecution, or a well-founded fear of persecution and are unable to return to their home country. Refugees typically cross into a neighboring country, where they often live in refugee camps for many years, hoping to return home. When it becomes clear that the conflict or persecution they fled will not be resolved in the near future, they may apply to be resettled in a third county like the United States. All vetting is conducted overseas by U.S. and international organizations. Those who come to the United States through the refugee resettlement program arrive with immediate residency and are able to work, enroll in school, and access public benefits. Refugees can apply for permanent residency (green card) after one year and citizenship after five years.”
- Asylees: “Catholic Charities serves both asylum seekers and asylees. These individuals flee their home country due to many of the same reasons as refugees, but travel directly to the United States and apply for asylum once they have arrived. The asylum process is lengthy and difficult, much like the refugee process. Once approved for asylum, asylees have largely the same benefits available to them as refugees.”
- SIVs: “Special Immigrant Visa holders (SIVs) are individuals who worked with the United States in some capacity overseas and, as a result, are put in exceptional danger in their home countries. SIVs come from Afghanistan or Iraq and complete the application overseas. Once approved, they may travel through the refugee resettlement program or by their own means and connect with a refugee resettlement agency after arrival. They typically receive their green card within a few months and are eligible for all of the same benefits as refugees upon arrival.”
- Afghan and Ukrainian Humanitarian Parolees: “The two most prominent groups over the past year and a half are Afghan and Ukrainian Humanitarian Parolees. Afghan Humanitarian Parolees were evacuated from Afghanistan by U.S. forces and processed at overseas and domestic military bases before being resettled by refugee resettlement agencies through the new Afghan Placement and Assistance Program (APA). The services and benefits these individuals were eligible for were nearly identical to those of refugees. Ukrainian Humanitarian Parolees (UHPs) typically travel to the United States on their own and connect with relatives and refugee resettlement agencies upon arrival. While they are eligible for many of the same benefits as refugees, the programs and services available to them differ slightly, largely from their ability to travel on their own and existing support communities. Neither parolee status above currently offers a path to citizenship, and many will apply for asylum or another immigration status within the 2-year period that parole is granted.”
The populations mentioned above are what Catholic Charities MRS program sees the most of, and recognizes that every country’s immigration process can be different.
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