A refugee, as defined by the Refugee Act of 1980, is a person who is outside of their home country and is unable or unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of the home country due to persecution or fear of persecution because of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. The refugee often flees or is forced to leave suddenly and therefore leaves with few possessions. The Refugee Act of 1980 authorized The Refugee Resettlement Program (RRP) to provide cash assistance, medical assistance, and social services to refugees. The Fascell-Stone Amendment to the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980 extended to Cuban and Haitian entrants the same benefits and services available to refugees. The Refugee Assistance Amendments of 1982 amended the law. In the Continuing Resolution of 1983, the Cuban/Haitian Entrant Program was combined with the RRP so that the same program served both refugees and entrants. The Refugee Assistance Extension Act of 1986 further amended the law. In 1988, the Amerasians Homecoming Act admitted Amerasians and their families as immigrants but made them eligible for refugee benefits. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 admitted victims of severe forms of human trafficking and made them eligible for refugee benefits. Asylees are also eligible for refugee benefits as added by the Refugee Act of 1980. Afghan and Iraqi Special Immigrant Visas and Central American unaccompanied minors are also eligible for refugee benefits.
Voluntary resettlement agencies are national agencies responsible for helping refugees through the first 90 days of their period of resettlement in the United States. The initials of the national agency will be found on the refugee’s I-94 Form (i.e., EMM, HIAS, IRC, LIRS, USCC, WRRS, ECDC). New American Pathways, International Rescue Committee, Lutheran Services of Georgia, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, and World Relief are the local agencies in Georgia who resettle refugees.
Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) and Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA) are available to refugees during their first eight months in the U.S. To be eligible for RCA, a refugee must be ineligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). A refugee who is eligible for RCA and/or RMA and then receives increased earnings from employment will continue to be eligible for RMA until the end of his/her 8-month eligibility period.
The Division of Family and Children Services Refugee Program provides funds to the Division of Public Health through a Memorandum of Agreement to provide health screening and follow-up treatment to refugees. Refugees receive the health screening during their first 90 days in the country. The Division of Public Health has bilingual staff to assist with the health screening and follow-up treatment.
Refugees are eligible for social services through the Refugee Resettlement Program upon arrival in Georgia. Certain services have restrictions based on length of time in the United States. For more information on specific services, please refer to the Program Overview.