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.
If you are in a refugee emergency, we recommend that you contact the UNHCR office in the country where you live .
This guide is for U.S.-based family members of Syrian and Iraqi nationals who want to help their relatives move to the United States.
Some Iraqis and Syrians can apply directly for resettlement to the United States through a Direct Access Program (DAP). Information from the U.S. government about the Direct Access Program is here in English. Information from the U.S. government about the Direct Access Program is here in Arabic.
Your relative might be eligible for this option if:
- They are a Syrian or Iraqi national, and
- They are afraid of serious harm in their country of origin because of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, and
- They live in Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Israel/the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, or the United Arab Emirates, and
- You are:
- Their spouse and a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR, or “green card holder”), OR
- Their child, at least 21 years old, and a U.S. citizen, OR
- Their sibling, at least 21 years old, and a U.S. citizen, OR
- Their parent and a U.S. citizen, OR
- Their parent and an LPR, if your child is not married.
If your relative is approved, your relative's spouse and any unmarried children who are under 21 years of age may also travel as part of their case file.
To start the process, you must file a form called the I-130. U.S. citizens and LPRs use this form to help certain family members move to the United States as permanent residents. IRAP’s guide about the I-130 process is here. For certain categories of relatives, this process can take many years. The U.S. government created a special program to allow Syrians and Iraqis with an approved I-130 to apply for U.S. refugee resettlement rather than waiting for their visa to become available. In some cases, this may be faster than the family-based visa application process.
Applying to this program does not guarantee that your relative will be resettled. Your relative must go through interviews, medical checks, and security checks like other refugees.
How to Apply for this Direct Access Program
Step 1: Filing the I-130 and Receiving Approval
You must file the I-130 to start the process. IRAP’s guide about how to file the I-130 and how to ask for faster processing is here.
Step 2: Applying for Refugee Resettlement
After the I-130 petition is approved, the U.S. State Department will send you several documents to explain the Direct Access Program and confirm your relative’s interest in refugee resettlement. You should complete and return them to the Refugee Processing Center at ContactInfo@wrapsnet.org to start your relative’s refugee resettlement case. It may take several months after the I-130 approval to open the refugee case. Your relative will receive a refugee application case number and be contacted directly about their next steps.
Your relative will then wait for interviews to decide whether they are a refugee under U.S. law. IRAP’s guide on preparing for U.S. refugee interviews is here. After interviews they will also have security and medical checks. This process can take several years.
Your relative can apply for a family-based visa and refugee resettlement at the same time. In some cases, refugee resettlement will be faster than the family immigration process. The timeline depends on your individual case. If your relative’s refugee case is denied, they will keep their place in line for a family-based visa unless they are found to be inadmissible to the United States.
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.