About Refugees

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Welcome to the Colorado Refugee Services Program

Colorado has a long history of leadership and support for refugee resettlement. Whether you are a refugee, an interested community member looking for a way to connect, or an employer looking to elevate your workforce, we hope to provide you with the resources that you need.

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About Refugees

Refugees come to Colorado from many different countries from around the globe and with an array of talents, skills, backgrounds and life experiences. They share the common aspiration of finding safety, security and opportunities to establish themselves and their families in new communities.

The following reports, data and links will help you understand the scope of refugee resettlement in Colorado and more about your new neighbors.


The Economic and Fiscal Impact of Refugees in Colorado report studied the economic impact of refugee resettlement in Colorado. CDHS invests in the stabilization and success of refugees and wanted to further understand the impacts of those investments on the Colorado economy. The report highlights the economic benefits that refugees bring to Colorado and shows that those benefits accrue over time. This study is unique in its design and its use of data, but it supports general research in this arena that shows that refugees bring more benefits to the economy than they receive. 

RISE is a unique five-year longitudinal study of refugee integration in Metro Denver. Although there are many obstacles and barriers, the study demonstrates that refugees work hard to successfully integrate into their new communities. We celebrate their resiliency, perseverance and unique skills and talents. Their success is shared with the many members of the village who support their efforts and help them along the way. We look forward to the many contributions refugees will make to our communities, economy and well-being of our nation.


Service Plan Overview

Overview of Refugee Employment Overview of Refugees in Colorado

Economic Snapshot

Underemployment of Refugees in Colorado

Economic Impact Overview


The reports posted below provide insight on resettlement trends and recent arrival and demographic data. This data covers statewide numbers and our three resettlement areas: Denver metro, Southern Colorado and Northern Colorado.

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Who is a refugee? How many refugees have resettled in the U.S. or in Colorado? Find the answers to these and many more questions below.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who is a refugee?
According to the 1951 Refugee Convention, a refugee is a person who, owing to well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his/her nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail him/herself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality or being outside the country of his/her former habitual residence, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.

Who is an asylee?
When people flee their own country and seek sanctuary in another country, they apply for asylum – the right to be recognized as a refugee and receive legal protection and material assistance. An asylum seeker must demonstrate that his or her fear of persecution in his or her home country is well-founded. Colorado’s refugee program serves asylees who have gained that status through the U.S. Immigration courts.

Who is a SIV?
Special Immigrant Visa holders are individuals who assisted U.S. military objectives in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families. SIVs flee their home countries seeking safety and sanctuary, much like refugees, but are a different immigration class. However, SIVs are eligible for the same services as refugees.

What other populations do refugee providers serve?
There are other populations served by refugee programs; in Colorado, these are quite small but include Cuban-Haitian entrants and certified Victims of Trafficking. You can learn more here.

How many refugees are resettled in the U.S.?
Each year, after consultation with Congress, the U.S. Department of State, and refugee-related agencies, the President signs a Presidential Determination regarding the number of refugees to be resettled in the U.S. In FFY 2015, 69,993 refugees were resettled in the U.S. In 2016, 84,995 refugees were resettled in the U.S. and in FFY 2017, 53,716 refugees were resettled in the U.S. The 2018 Presidential Determination allows for up to 45,000 refugees.

How many SIVs are resettled in the U.S.?
Unlike refugees, the number of SIV applications approved each year is under the authority of Congress. Recently, the number of SIV visas approved has ranged between 10,000 and 15,000 a year.

How many refugees are resettled in Colorado?
Click here for Colorado refugee arrival data and demographics. Since 1980, an average of 1,650 refugees has arrived each year.

Where are refugees resettled in Colorado?
Primary refugee resettlement sites are Denver Metro, Colorado Springs and Greeley. You can learn more about resettlement data and demographics here.

Where do refugees come from?
Refugees are resettled from many different countries around the world as result of global need. Over the last few years the countries with the highest number of resettled refugees are from: Burma; Iraq; Afghanistan; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Bhutan; and Somalia. Click here for additional data.

What is the Colorado Refugee Services Program (CRSP)?
CRSP is a program within the Division of Employment and Benefits within the Colorado Department of Human Services and partially funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement, under the authority of the Refugee Act of 1980. Its goal is to ensure effective resettlement of officially designated refugees and to promote refugee self-sufficiency and integration. CRSP also oversees the Colorado Works (TANF) program for refugees.

Where does funding come from for refugee resettlement?
Most funding comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and the Department of State’s Populations, Refugees, and Migration (PRM). You can go to ORR's website and view the state’s annual program overview.

Who provides services to refugees?
CRSP works with many community partners, including three designated refugee resettlement agencies (sometimes referred to as VOLAGS): African Community Center, International Rescue Committee, and Lutheran Family Services Refugee and Asylee Programs.

What services do refugees receive?
Services include, but are not limited to: ESL classes, job training and employment placement, time-limited cash assistance, citizenship services, and health care. Click on the Colorado Service Plan to see an overview of the flow of coordinated services in Colorado.
Are refugees screened for security and health issues?
Refugees undergo a comprehensive screening for security and health issues. They are the most vetted class of individuals allowed to enter the U.S. from a foreign country. In fact, most refugees must wait and average of 18 to 24 months for final clearance to be admitted because of the rigorous process they must undergo to assure their identity and protect the citizens of the U.S. from any security risk.  You can learn more about this process at the following websites: Refugee Processing and Security ScreeningThe Refugee Processing and Screening System; and CDC Refugee and Immigrant Health.

Where can I go for more information on refugee resettlement?
Visit the About Refugees page for a guide to more information about refugees. One of the best ways to learn about our refugee community is to connect with our refugee neighbors by participating in events or by volunteering in the numerous programs. 

Additional Resources

You can use these links to learn more about refugees, refugee resettlement, and refugee-specific resources.

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U. S. Refugee Resettlement Overview  

Educational Resources

For schools and education providers:

For immigration and legal assistance information:

For cultural orientation materials and information:

For receiving communities:

For immigration data and research:

For technical assistance for refugee service providers:

For behavioral health information and expertise:

For employment initiatives:

For health-related information:

For up-to-date arrivals information nationally and in Colorado:

For information regarding the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) program: