Refugees are heavily screened and thoroughly vetted long before they are granted admission to the United States. While total processing time varies depending on an applicant’s circumstances, the average length of time from referral to arrival in the U.S. is around 18-24 months. A refugee may wait in a camp or secondary country for years, or decades, before being referred to the U.S. for permanent resettlement. Security screenings are a joint responsibility of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of State, and include the participation of multiple additional U.S. government security agencies including the FBI and the Department of Defense. No other immigrants, visitors, or foreign workers receive such a high level of scrutiny before being granted admission to the U.S.
Once a person applying for refugee status has been deemed eligible and approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, he or she must undergo an overseas health screening to identify medical needs and to ensure that those with a contagious disease, such as tuberculosis, do not enter the United States. Once admitted to the country, a post-arrival health screening is conducted to address any preexisting medical conditions, promote and improve health, prevent disease, and introduce newly arrived refugees to the U.S. healthcare system.