Refugees entering US undergo rigorous 7-step vetting process


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SALT LAKE CITY — In the wake of a controversial executive order, President Donald Trump issued a statement Sunday promising to issue visas to all countries once his administration has reviewed the process to admit refugees and implemented “the most secure policies.”

Trump’s sweeping executive order includes a 90-day ban on travel to the U.S. by citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen and a 120-day suspension of the U.S. refugee program. The order also indefinitely blocks Syrians from entering the country, including those fleeing civil war.

Many across the country voiced their support or criticism for the order. Those against say the ban unfairly targets individuals from those countries based on their Muslim faith.

Advocates of the ban say the vetting process for refugees is not extensive enough and needs to be reviewed and updated, though refugees currently take part in the most rigorous screening process for acceptance into the U.S.

The following seven steps are the vetting process as it stands, according to the U.S. Department of State:

1. Registration and Data Collection

Refugees begin by applying for resettlement with the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR), which collects their documentation and information and strong candidates move forward (less than one percent of the global refugee population).

That information is then transferred to a Department of State-funded Resettlement Support Center (RSC), which will conduct an extensive interview with the applicant, verify the applicant’s documentation and then send the information to other agencies to conduct background checks.

All the information is entered into the Department of State’s Worldwide Refugee Admission Processing System (WRAPS), as is all other information that comes to light throughout the process.

2. Security Checks Begin

U.S. national security agencies, including the FBI, the National Counterterrorism Center and the Department of Homeland Security, begin screening the applicant using the data they received from the RSC.

The background checks screen for security threats and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does extra checks on Syrian applicants.

3. Department of Homeland Security Interview

The DHS reviews the screening results, conducts in-person interviews in the applicant’s host country and collects biometric data.

New background checks and interviews are conducted each time new information arises.

4. Biometric Security Checks

Fingerprints are collected by U.S. government employees and stored in the DHS database. Once stored, the fingerprints are screened against the FBI biometric database, the DHS biometric database and the U.S. Department of Defense database.

Any screenings with “problematic results” are denied.

5. Cultural Orientation and Medical Check

All refugees approved by the DHS undergo a medical screening to identify any threatening diseases and complete a class on “American culture, customs and practices.”

If the medical examination clears, the applicant may move forward with the process.

6. Assignment to Domestic Resettlement

Each week, representatives from each of the domestic resettlement agencies meet and review applicant information and determine where to resettle each refugee. The refugee is then notified of their destination.

The International Organization for Migration then books travel for the refugees, which requires the refugees to go through U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the TSA.

7. Arrival in the U.S.

Applicants arrive in the U.S. where representatives from the domestic resettlement agencies welcome them at the airport and help them settle into their new communities.

This article was originally published at It is used here with permission.