The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) provides free legal help to some refugees and displaced people.
- IRAP helps some people find services and prepare refugee and visa applications.
- IRAP is not part of any government, IOM, or UNHCR.
- IRAP cannot grant refugee status or visas or speed up cases.
- IRAP cannot provide financial help, find or pay for housing, or find jobs.
- All of IRAP’s help is free. No one affiliated with IRAP has the right to ask you for money or any other service.
IRAP decides to help people based on their need and eligibility for immigration status. IRAP does not decide to help people based on any other social or political or religious criteria.
This website provides general information about legal processes available to some refugees. It is not meant as legal advice for individual applications.
This information was revised in August 2023. Requirements may change. Always check for current requirements from the government or agency deciding your request.
This guide is for religious minorities who are citizens of former Soviet Union countries and seek to reunite with family in the United States through the Lautenberg Program.
About the Lautenberg Program
The Lautenberg Program allows certain religious minorities in the former Soviet Union to apply for refugee resettlement through the U.S. Refugee Admission Program (USRAP). The application process must be initiated by a U.S.-based individual with eligible status.
The U.S.-based individual must be:
- A U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident (or “green card” holder), asylee, refugee, or parolee
- At least 18 years old
The refugee applicant must be:
- The parent, child, spouse, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling of the U.S.-based family member
- A citizen of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, or Uzbekistan
- A member of a religious minority, including Jews, Evangelical Christians (Baptists, Pentecostals, Seventh Day Adventists, and others), Jehovah’s Witnesses, Ukrainian Greek Catholics, and members of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church
- At least 18 years old
How to File an Application
U.S. family members and overseas applicants cannot apply directly to the U.S. government to access this program; only designated resettlement agencies in the United States can submit the initial application.
The U.S. family member must request assistance from a local resettlement agency, which will help them file an “Affidavit of Relationship” (AOR) with all the relevant information regarding their eligible family member.
To find a resettlement agency near you in the United States, you can use this website and search by your state of residence.
Applicants over the age of 14 will need to complete a Preliminary Questionnaire (PQ) in English, Russian, or Ukrainian.
The U.S. family member will be required to provide:
- Birth certificate
- Proof of current status in the United States, such as a passport, green card, or certificate of naturalization
The refugee applicant will be required to provide:
- Birth certificate
- National ID card
- Marriage certificate, name change decree, divorce decree, adoption order (if relevant)
- Passport photos
English translations of these documents are not required.
You may be required to provide documents not listed above at the time of submission, or later in the process.
Next Steps in Processing
Applicants must remain in their country for their case to be processed, unless they are Ukrainians who have been displaced by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Applicants who have left Ukraine for that reason should write to IOM, Resettlement Support Center (RSC) Eurasia at email@example.com with their new location and contact details.
Applicants will undergo official interviews, medical checks, and security checks before receiving a final decision on their application.
If your application is approved, IOM will provide you with information and instructions related to your travel to the United States.
If your application is denied, you can request that the U.S. government review your case again. More information on how to submit such a request can be found here.
Asking for help
You or your relative may want to ask an immigration attorney for help with this process. Here are a few resources:
- Information about asking for help from IRAP is here.
- If you are in Jordan, you can ask for IRAP Jordan’s help using this form. If the form is closed, you can check back at a later date.
- A list of free immigration legal service providers in the United States is available here. These attorneys are not affiliated with IRAP.
- A list of private immigration attorneys in the United States is available here. Please note that private immigration attorneys may charge a fee for their services. These attorneys are not affiliated with IRAP.