Processing Soviet Refugees

T-NSIAD-89-22: Published: Apr 6, 1989. Publicly Released: Apr 6, 1989.

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GAO reviewed U.S. policies on Soviet refugee applicants and the procedures for processing applications. GAO found that: (1) from fiscal years (FY) 1981 through 1987, few Soviets entered the United States as refugees, but the number of refugees increased to about 20,400 in FY 1988, and the Department of State expected 90,000 to 100,000 to apply for refugee status in FY 1989; (2) because Congress allocated only 25,000 refugee admissions for FY 1989, the administration is preparing requests for $85 million in supplemental budget authority and 18,500 additional admissions; (3) in 1988, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) discontinued its long-standing practice of granting presumptive refugee status to all Soviets and began to adjudicate applications on a case-by-case basis; (4) as of March 31, 1989, INS had denied 4,919 Soviets refugee status, and most denied applicants did not accept humanitarian parole; and (5) INS officers in Rome and Moscow inconsistently adjudicated refugee cases due to differing guidance, lack of knowledge about Soviet country conditions, differing interview methods, and the large volume of refugee applicants.

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