Refugee Numbers for Fiscal Year 2016

Written by Alexander J. Segal on

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Section 207 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) gives the President the authority to allocate a limited number of refugee numbers for each fiscal year (subject to consultation with Congress and certain other concerns). This effectively sets the limits for how many refugees may be admitted in the fiscal year. On September 29, 2015, the President announced the allocation of refugee numbers for fiscal year (FY) 2016 [PDF version].1

  • Up to 85,000 refugees may be admitted during FY 2016

Available refugee numbers for FY 2016 are allocated by region:

  • Africa (25,000)
  • East Asia (13,000)
  • Europe and Central Asia (4,000)
  • Latin America/Caribbean (3,000)
  • Near East/South Asia (34,000)
  • Unallocated (6,000)

The 6,000 unallocated refugee numbers shall be allocated to allow any of the regions to exceed their ceilings as needed.

In accordance with section 101(a)(42) of the INA, the President, in consultation with Congress, may designate persons who are otherwise qualified to be considered refugees for purpose of admission to the United States from within their countries or nationalities of habitual residence:

  • a. Persons in Cuba
  • b. Persons in Eurasia and the Baltics
  • c. Persons in Iraq
  • d. Persons in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador
  • e. In exceptional circumstances, persons identified by a United States Embassy in any location

The 85,000 refugee numbers available for FY 2016 is an increase over the 70,000 that were available for FY 2015. Secretary of State John Kerry stated that the Administration plans to admit at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in FY 2016. Furthermore, Secretary Kerry said that the administration hopes to make at least 100,000 refugee numbers available for FY 2017.2

Please consult Asylum and Refugee Protection section to learn about asylum and refugee protection in immigration law.

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  1. FR 62433
  2. Secretary Kerry said in remarks to the press: “Last year I think we were at 70,000 [refugees]. We are now going to go up to 85,000 with at least, and I underscore the “at least” — it is not a ceiling, it's a floor — of 10,000 over the next year from Syria… And in the next fiscal year, we'll target 100,000, and if it's possible to do more, we'll do.”

Resources and Materials:

DOS, “Joint Press Availability with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier,” published on September 20, 2015, available at http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2015/09/247077.htm [link]