OFFICIAL DEFINITION OF REFUGEE: “Any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality, and who is unable to return to, and is unable to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” From the Refugee Act of 1980, P.L. No. 96-212, Congress codified and strengthened the United States’ historic policy of aiding individuals fleeing persecution in their homelands.

Come learn about local refugee communities in Salt Lake City, Utah

All groups and individuals are welcome to attend the Refugee Cultural Nights where the public can come learn and celebrate local refugee communities. We ask that all large groups sign up here so that we can accommodate appropriately:


Frequently Asked Questions

Refugee Terms

Who is considered a refugee?

A refugee, by definition, is someone who, “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his or her nationality and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”

How are refugees different than immigrants?

• A refugee is legally brought to the United States by the U.S. Department of State.

• They are individuals who may become permanent residents after one year and may apply for citizenship after five years.

• All refugees may legally work in the U.S. as soon as they arrive.

Who decides who is a refugee?

UNHCR conducts interviews to decide if a person should be granted refugee status. UNHCR seeks to find what it calls a durable solution for any refugee situation. There are three durable solutions:

1. Voluntary repatriation to the home country

2. Integration into the country of asylum

3. Resettlement in a third country, such as the United States.

Which refugees are eligible for U.S. resettlement?

A person who meets the definition of refugee may be eligible for U.S. resettlement if he or she:

• Has a particularly compelling history of persecution.

• Is a member of an ethnic or religious group that is considered by the United States to be of special humanitarian concern.

• Is the spouse, unmarried child or parent of a refugee who has been resettled or is a U.S. permanent resident or an asylee in the United States.

How are refugees processed for U.S. resettlement?

Overseas processing entities (OPEs) interview applicants, prepare paperwork for USCIS and arrange medical examinations and background security checks for refugees approved by USCIS. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) arranges transportation to the United States. Refugees are expected to repay the cost of their transportation once they get established. Before departure, refugees receive cultural orientation, which provides them with information about life in the U.S. and helps them establish realistic expectations about resettlement.

Who helps refugees resettle in Utah?

In Utah there are two resettlement agencies: the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Catholic Community Services (CCS). The resettlement agency is the most important source of information and assistance during the refugees’ first months in the United States. The resettlement agency ensures that refugees are welcomed at the airport; arranges for their housing, furniture and basic household supplies; conducts orientation; and prepares a resettlement plan, which includes referrals to social services and employment.


Service is always best when it’s from the heart. Read and share this piece to be inspired by a local effort to get involved in a personal way. 

Learn why American landlords love refugees

Refugees need to find a new home, and we need landlords who will rent to them. Spread the word about how refugees make great renters and truly value their homes. Read on, then share the article with your friends. Learn more.

Learn about a Utah couple making a difference in Jordan

More than 600,000 people have fled to Jordan for refuge from civil wars and conflicts. Read this amazing story about how a local Utah couple is making a difference on the front lines, then pass it on. Learn more.

Learn about a helping refugees thrive, not just survive – TED Talk

Learn about over six and a half million Syrian refugees, of which over half are children. They have been forcibly displaced. Every day on average 32,000 people in the world will be forcibly displaced. Learn more.

Click here to Support Utah Refugees Each Month