USCIRF Welcomes Announcement that Refugee Ceiling will Increase Next Fiscal Year

Feb 5, 2021

USCIRF Welcomes Announcement that Refugee Ceiling will Increase Next Fiscal Year

Encourages Prioritization of the Most Vulnerable

Washington, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) applauded President Joseph R. Biden for announcing his intent to raise the numerical ceiling to 125,000 for refugees accepted from abroad through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for the next Fiscal Year, which starts on October 1, 2021. The International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) requires that religious persecution should be considered in determining the refugee ceiling.

USCIRF also welcomed the Executive Order on Rebuilding and Enhancing Programs to Resettle Refugees and Planning for the Impact of Climate Change on Migration signed yesterday, which will position the Administration to be able to raise the ceiling.

“Unprecedented numbers of individuals worldwide are forcibly displaced by conflict or persecution, including based on their religion or belief. USCIRF is encouraged that the Biden Administration is taking steps to ensure that the United States can be a safe haven to those targeted for their faith by restoring a robust resettlement program,” said USCIRF Chair Gayle Manchin. We hope to see the Administration prioritize the most vulnerable refugees, such as members of severely persecuted religious communities, those targeted for having no faith, and survivors of genocide or other atrocity crimes.”

Since the USRAP began in 1980, the maximum for refugees accepted into the United States has averaged 95,000 per year. The refugee ceiling for the current fiscal year is 15,000.

“The U.S. refugee resettlement program is a vital lifeline for those fleeing religious persecution,” said USCIRF Commissioner Nadine Maenza. “However, only a small number of the world’s almost 80 million refugees and internally displaced persons will ultimately be resettled in a third country. We also call on the U.S. government to continue to support humanitarian efforts to aid those who are displaced and enable them to safely and voluntarily return home where possible.”

USCIRF recommended in its 2020 Annual Report that the U.S. government return the annual ceiling for the USRAP to the previously-typical 95,000. USCIRF will be holding a virtual hearing on Refugees Fleeing Religious Persecution on Wednesday, February 10th at 10:30 AM ET.


The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at