One side of the political aisle believes refugees need to be vetted more thoroughly, because it is too easy for refugees to enter the US. The following process takes an average of 17 years:

1. Be driven from your home and flee the country

2. Register with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

3. Interview with a UNHCR contractor

4. Have your case reviewed by two UNHCR officials

5. If there are concerns with your case, you will be interviewed again

6. Have your refugee status granted by the UNHCR

7. Receive a resettlement referral to the US by the United Nations

-Referral to the US is based on high vulnerability or rejoining family.

8. In-person interview with State Department Resettlement Support Center (RSC) contractors

-Your information is then entering into the State Department's Worldwide Refugee Admission Processing System to verify your information and send it to United States agencies to begin your background checks.

9. Background check no. 1 with the National Counterterrorism Center, FBI, and departments of Homeland Security, Defense, and State

-Checks to see if you are a security threat, have any immigration or criminal violations, and have connections to bad actors

10. If necessary, you will have a higher-level background check

11. Background check no. 2

12. Your photo is taken by US government employees

13. Your fingerprints are taken to be cross-checked by different agencies

14. Fingerprint screening no. 1 with the FBI's database

15. Fingerprint screening no. 2 with Homeland Security's database

16. Fingerprint screening no. 3 with the Department of Defense's database

17. Your fingerprint results are reviewed by Homeland Security

18. US Citizenship and Immigration Services headquarters reviews your case (Syrian refugees only)

19. If necessary, your case will have a higher-level review (Syrian refugees only)

20. Extensive, in-person interview with an immigration officer from Homeland Security

-Immigration officers visit your refugee camp to verify your story, verify your information from RSC, and ensure that you meet US admissions criteria.

21. If new information arises, interview again

-If inconsistencies arise, your case is put on hold until those are resolved.

22. Approval from Homeland Security

23. Thorough health screening to identify contagious diseases and medical needs

-You cannot enter the US until cleared.

24. Cultural orientation class

25. International Organization for Migration books your travel

26. Security check before you depart for the US

-Multiple agencies check for any new information.

27. Final security check at the American airport

-Confirms the person arriving is the same as the one screened and approved for entry into the US.


Sources: New York Times, New York Times, World Relief, Department of State