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General Information

  • Refugee Services is 100% federally funded.
  • Resettlement of refugees is governed by federal law - Refugee Act of 1980, Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980, Regulated at 45 Code of Federal Regulations Part 400 and 401, 409.953, F.S. Admission to the U.S. of other categories of persons eligible for Refugee Services is also governed by Federal laws and policies.

Eligible Clients

Eligibility for programs of Refugee Services is determined by federal law and includes the following:

  • Refugees are individuals who have been forced to flee their home country due to persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution. Refugees are granted status before they arrive in the United States.
  • Cuban/Haitian Entrants is a term used to describe Cuban and Haitian nationals who enter the United States and are granted a parole upon entry, apply for asylum, or are in removal proceedings.
  • Asylees are persons already in the United States who, due to persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country, have been granted asylum by asylum officers or immigration judges in the United States.
  • Afghan and Iraqi Special Immigrants (SIV) are Iraqi and Afghani nationals who worked with the U.S. military and who were granted special immigrant status.
  • Certified Victims of Human Trafficking (VOT) are individuals from foreign countries who, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion, have been forced to perform a commercial sex act, or have been subjected to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

Florida's Refugee Arrival Population

Cuba is the country of origin of most refugee clients in Florida; however, Florida’s refugees come from over 40 different home countries, including Cuba, Haiti, Venezuela, Colombia, Afghanistan, Ukraine, El Salvador, Honduras, Egypt, Nicaragua and Iraq. Refugees resettle primarily in Miami-Dade County with significant populations in Hillsborough, Broward, Duval, Palm Beach, Orange, Pinellas, Lee, and Collier Counties.

Florida's Arrival Population over Five Years

The following chart reflects clients entering Florida each federal fiscal year. The Department’s website also includes data for the Refugee Services Program on additional clients accessing services tracked by their date of entry into the U.S.

Federal Fiscal Year Refugees Cuban/Haitian
Asylees SIV VOT Total
2016 3,535 60,581 547 175 22 64,860
2017 2,140 30,484 411 195 49 33,279
2018 698 5,841 1,364 100 26 8,029
2019 788 13,035 1,367 52 80 15,322
2020 404 4,032 902 47 24 5,409
TOTAL 7,565 113,973 4,591 569 201 126,899

Services to Refugees

Refugee Services currently manages more than a dozen refugee services contracts with state agencies, local governments, and community-based organizations. The Department of Health provides health screenings to ensure newly arrived refugee clients do not have communicable diseases and to identify health issues. AHCA provides payment for Refugee Medical Assistance services in accordance with Medicaid rules, with Federal Funding.

Benefits and services are provided as permitted under CFR 45 Part 400 and 401. Refugee clients who are eligible for TANF and Medicaid may apply for and receive those benefits. Those who are ineligible for those programs may apply for and receive Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) and Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA). In FFY 2020, more than 9,241 clients received RCA, more than 10,014 received RMA and more than 2,380 received TANF. RCA and RMA are limited to eight months of assistance after arrival in the U.S.

In FFY 2020, Refugee Services provided an estimated 27,967 unduplicated clients with services including employment, adult education, Refugee Medical and Cash Assistance and health screening. In FFY 2019, Refugee Services provided 8,494 English language classes to 4,767 clients, 1,713 vocational training classes to 725 clients and childcare to 437 clients. Refugee Services helped 5,182 refugee clients obtain unsubsidized employment, with 83% retaining jobs for at least 90 days in FFY 2020.