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 Iranian nationals who are members of religious minorities and seek to reunite with family in the United States through the Iranian Lautenberg Program (the “HIAS Program”).
About the Iranian Lautenberg Program
The Iranian Lautenberg Program, sometimes known among applicants as “The HIAS Program,” allows certain Iranian religious minorities 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 Iran who is residing in Iran
- A member of a religious minority, including Jews, Christians, Baha’is, Sabaean-Mandaeans, and Zoroastrians
- At least 18 years old
How to File an Application
U.S. family members and Iranian 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 a “Refugee Information Form” (RIF) with all the relevant information regarding their Iranian 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.
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)
- Evidence of religious affiliation
- Military identity or exemption card (if relevant)
- Passport photos
English translations are required for documents that are not in English. You may be required to provide documents not listed above at the time of submission, or later in the process.
Next Steps in Processing
NOTE: The Iranian Lautenberg Program is currently accepting new applications from Iranians. However, travel to Vienna for final processing has been frozen since 2017. There is no current estimate available for when processing in Vienna will restart.
After the initial application is filed, the U.S. government will conduct an initial screening of the application.
In the past, final processing has occurred in Vienna, Austria, and the U.S. government has helped to facilitate the applicant’s relocation to Austria. U.S. family member were expected to provide a fee to HIAS, the Resettlement Support Center (RSC) Austria, on behalf of the applicant. HIAS has coordinated the steps that occur in Vienna.
Applicants in Vienna undergo official interviews, medical checks, and security checks before receiving a final decision on their application. More information on USRAP processing is available here and a guide on how to prepare for a refugee interview is here.
HIAS has provided applicants in Vienna with information and instructions related to travel to the United States.
Refugee applicants who are denied by USCIS can request that the U.S. government review their case again. More information on how to submit such a request can be found here.
Iranian Lautenberg Refugee Applicants Who Traveled to Vienna and Received Denials
If you are an Iranian religious minority who traveled to Vienna through the Iranian Lautenberg (HIAS) program and you were denied refugee admission, find out if you can benefit from a lawsuit settlement by visiting this website and entering your case number.
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.