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U.S. Department of State

Fact Sheet
Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
Washington, DC
November 19, 2002

Refugee Admissions Program for the New Independent States and the Baltics


Since 1989, residents of the New Independent States (NIS) and the Baltics who qualify under the categories specified in the Lautenberg Amendment (Jews, Evangelicals, and certain members of the Ukrainian Catholic or Ukrainian Orthodox Churches), with qualifying relatives in the U.S., have been interviewed in Moscow for refugee status.  Those who assert a well-founded fear of persecution are granted refugee status.  Over 454,000 individuals have entered the United States as refugees under this program, nearly 20 percent of all the refugees admitted since 1989.  In FY 2002, we admitted 9490 refugees from the NIS and the Baltics.  The number of admissions was less than anticipated because the post September 11 moratorium on refugee admissions and the five month closure of INS Moscow seriously disrupted our program.    

FY 2003 Admissions Program

The Department anticipates admitting 14,000 refugees from the NIS and the Baltics in FY 2003.  We will attempt to make up for the disruptions of FY 2002 which drastically reduced the number of refugee we were able to process.    

Eligibility criteria for the program in FY 2003 will be as follows: all nationalities will be eligible for Priority One.  Persons who were nationals of the U.S.S.R. and members of one of the Lautenberg Amendment groups prior to September 2, 1991, will be eligible for Priority Two processing in country.  We will also have Priority Two processing for a group of ethnic Armenians from Azarbaijan who have been unable to permanently resettle in Russia.

We will continue circuit rides to the Caucasus and Central Asia to consider cases of applicants for whom travel to Moscow is difficult, as well as referrals from UNHCR.   We will also maintain the requirement initiated in FY 2000 whereby all refugees must travel to the U.S. within one year of their interview date.