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A refugee is a person who has been forced to flee his or her home country and is unable to return because of a well-founded fear of persecution. All refugees in the U.S. have legal residency status and permission to work upon their arrival to the country. All arriving refugees are resettled through a Voluntary Agency, like Arrive Ministries, that has a contract with the federal government to provide basic services for refugees during their first 90 days in the U.S.
Newly arrived refugees need housing immediately upon arrival but their situation is unique. It takes 2-4 weeks after arrival to Minnesota for refugees to receive other forms of identification, e.g. their social security card and photo identification, even though they apply within their first few days here. All refugees have passed an extensive background check by the Department of Homeland Security and would not get to the United States without an impeccable criminal record. However, it is not possible to run a criminal background check on arriving or newly arrived refugees because they have no history in the U.S. Similarly, arriving and newly arrived refugees do not have any rental, employment, or credit history in the U.S.
Refugees have come from very difficult situations and are very strong, determined, and hard-working people. They are driven to create a safe and stable environment for their families despite all odds. This means they will do their best to be good tenants who are respectful of property, neighbors, and apartment managers.
Arrive Ministries provides extensive training to new refugees on how to be good tenants. Refugees are taught by their case managers that rent is the most important monthly bill to pay, and are therefore more likely to pay rent on time even when they have limited income.
Although little information will show up on a conventional background check for refugees who are new to the country, refugees are thoroughly screened before entering the country. The U.S. State Department conducts a rigorous screening process of refugees before being admitted into the U.S.
The fingerprints of applicants are screened against the FBI biometric database, the DHS biometric database (which includes watch-list information and previous immigration encounters in the U.S. and overseas), and the U.S. Department of Defense database, which includes fingerprints that are collected from around the world. In-person interviews are conducted with each refugee applicant before deciding whether to approve him or her for resettlement in the United States. All refugees undergo a health screening to identify medical needs and to ensure that those with a contagious disease do not enter the United States. Most refugees undergo a brief U.S. cultural orientation course prior to departure for the United States.
For more information on this process, visit Refugee Processing and Security Screening | USCIS
Though a refugee cannot provide the typical forms needed to rent an apartment, other alternative methods are sufficive.
Criminal Background Check: A refugee’s 1-94 Card serves as a verification that he or she has passed extensive background screenings by the Department of Homeland Security, which are far more comprehensive than criminal background checks.
Rental History: All of Arrive Ministries clients receive a two-part home orientation and work intensively with their case managers to learn good tenant practices. Many of our families also have volunteers who help them with this process.
Employment/Credit History: All refugee families coming through Arrive Ministries receive an initial resettlement grant which is used to pay security deposit and first month’s rent. They are also immediately eligible for cash assistance from the county. It is possible for the county to vendor all or part of the assistance to the landlord as rental payment. When a refugee is receiving cash assistance from the county, they are also assigned an employment counselor with whom they will work to find employment as soon as possible. Furthermore, case managers coach refugees in budgeting, the importance of finding employment, and the importance of paying rent on time.
If you know of anyone who owns or manages property in the Twin Cities, fill-out this form.
Arrive Ministries is a refugee resettlement agency providing essential services and practical assistance to refugees and immigrants to advance self-sufficiency. We mobilize volunteers, in partnership with local churches, to extend love and friendship to our new neighbors to promote thriving in a new homeland.
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