Will a USRAP applicant for refugee processing get help traveling to interview location?

Refugee applicants rarely receive assistance to travel to an interview, but other options are possible.

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Question

I am an asylee from Syria. I have filed an Affidavit of Relationship for my teenage daughter, who is in a refugee camp in Turkey. I think her case will be processed in Istanbul, which is very far from her current location. Will she obtain assistance from the U.S. government to travel to that location for her interview?

Answer

Probably not. Sometimes, in some locations, the United Nations’ refugee agency (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and especially nongovernmental organizations (NGO) can provide local transportation assistance or subsidies to refugees.

However, such assistance is scarce and more likely to be provided during emergencies than for purposes such as attending a “resettlement” interview (as in your daughter’s case). Moreover, unless your daughter has easy access to UNHCR or NGO personnel on or near her camp, she might find it equally difficult or expensive to travel to those agencies’ offices.

Nevertheless, your daughter might not need to travel at all for her interview. Officers of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS (the agency responsible for deciding refugee applications) occasionally schedule trips (also referred to as “circuit rides”) to locations in or near refugee camps, specifically for the purpose of interviewing applicants to the U.S. Refugees Admissions Program.

Also keep in mind that very few Syrian refugees have been resettled to the U.S. so far (as of early 2014) — neither through the Resettlement Support Center in Istanbul (which is run by the International Catholic Migration Commission) nor through the Resettlement Support Center in Jordan (which is run by IOM).

Thus, it is unclear how many circuit rides are likely to be scheduled in or near your daughter’s location, and when, but whether any take place at all will depend on several factors. These include political and security conditions in Turkey, the availability of personnel, questions of logistics, as well as the number of other persons at or near the location in question who happen to also have refugee applications pending at the time.

In any event, the resettlement agency where you filed your Affidavit of Relationship will be notified if and when your daughter is scheduled for a circuit ride interview, and should thus be in a position to keep you informed. In the alternative, you could also directly contact the Resettlement Support Center in Istanbul (run by the International Catholic Migration Commission) for details on the status of your daughter’s case.

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