Frequently Asked Questions

Q.Who qualifies as a refugee and what defines the term “refugee”?

A.The 1951 Refugee Convention spells out that a refugee is someone who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.” In 1980, the US adopted the UN’s definition via the US Refugee Act of 1980, and uses this definition today as the foundation of our domestic refugee resettlement program. It is a common misconception that all refugees are from a particular country, ethnic group, or class background, and the definition outlined above encompasses people from all over the world from all different backgrounds and identities.

Q: What is the screening process that refugees undergo in order to be deemed safe for resettlement in the United States?

A: The security screenings in place for refugees admitted to the US are deemed as “the most robust of any population processed by USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Immigration Program)” says the USCIS. Here is a great infographic from the White House that outlines the basic procedures of security checks for refugees awaiting admission to the US. They also made an awesome video too! For even more extensive and technical details, check out page 4 of this PDF from the Congressional Research Service written in Nov 2015 that outlines the US refugee admissions program. A shorter answer is that refugees undergo a wide variety of extensive biographic and biometric evaluations, and only a very small percent of the applicant pool is accepted into the country for resettlement due to these rigorous screenings. These lengthy screenings often delay resettlement for years, and individuals can be denied entry based upon an immense number of reasons. Among these, for example, are an active tuberculosis diagnosis, or a history of drug or alcohol dependence, or broader terrorism-related inadmissability grounds.

Q: Are refugees documented and able to work legally in the US?

A: YES! Refugees are documented and legally authorized immigrants in the United States. They have extensive paperwork that supports their residency here, including an employment authorization document (EAD), otherwise known as a “work permit.” This document, issued by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), provides temporary employment authorization to non-citizens in the US. Refugees also enter the work force almost immediately upon arrival. A steady job is crucial to build a life of self-sufficiency in the US, and our office begins to help refugees find employment within a few weeks of their arrival in the Triangle.

Q: I am an employer and would like to hire refugees. Who should I contact?

A: The CWSG Employment Team works hard to prepare refugees for the U.S. workforce and to connect employers with hard-working refugees. Contact Employment Specialist Ghaisha Mohamed at

QI’m a certified volunteer, but can’t find where to submit my case notes for direct service.

A: Check out this link for case note submission, or follow the volunteer tab on the main page to navigate to the list of CWS-Greensboro Volunteer Sphere resources, where you’ll find the case note submission link.

Q: Why do volunteers need to submit case notes?

A: The U.S. government wants to see that local communities--and not just agencies--are active in supporting newly-arrived refugees and committed to helping these newcomers integrate. Case notes are how CWSG documents volunteer and community involvement so that the City of Greensboro continues its 40-year history of refugee resettlement!

QI’m a refugee, and I have a question about my Green Card, citizenship status, or family reunification possibilities.

A: Please contact our Immigration Legal Team at their office number (­­­­336-676-4223) to make an appointment with one of our immigration legal counselors. Further information about our immigration legal services can be found here.

Q: Does CWSG find places for refugees to live or provide housing for refugees?

A: CWSG does not house refugees. Our office works closely with local housing resources that are safe, affordable, and along public transit lines that provide leasing options for refugees. These housing options are secured about a month in advance of a refugee’s arrival by the case manager assigned to their case, furnished with largely donated furniture and home items and refugees arrive to their new residences directly from the airport with a small sense of home waiting for them. New arrivals sign their own leases and have complete control of their home life from day one in the US.