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Announcing the New Annual Survey of Refugees

The Annual Survey of Refugees (ASR) is a scientific study that collects information about how recently resettled refugees are adapting to life in the U.S. It is funded by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement and is being conducted by the Urban Institute and SSRS.

ORR has conducted this survey since 1993 to gather information on recently arrived refugees. You can find more information in the FY17 ORR Report to Congress.

A major redesign is being launched this year, with a revised questionnaire that was developed through a multi-year design process. The data collected will cover a wide range of issues on the refugee resettlement experience, including but not limited to public assistance receipt, employment, English language acquisition, health insurance coverage, and permanent residency status. The new ASR will more effectively capture refugee self-sufficiency and integration by collecting information on additional factors affecting resettlement experiences, such as experiences before arrival, social connection, health, and other topics. The new questionnaire can be found on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) website.

What you need to know:

  • You may have clients who ask you about the survey, if they are among the randomly selected individuals who are part of the survey sample. You can share with them that this is a research study which provides valuable information about how refugees arriving in the last five years are faring. Their participation in the survey is voluntary; they can choose whether they want to participate or not.
  • Letters of introduction will be mailed between January and March to a national sample of several thousand resettled refugees who arrived in the U.S. between 2015 and 2019.
  • The letters will describe the ASR, explain how the survey information will be used, and ask the recipients to consider participating.
  • The letters will include a pre-addressed, stamped envelope for recipients to complete with a preferred contact phone number and preferred language for the interview. Letters will be issued in the respondent’s primary language, and additional telephone numbers will be provided for likely additional languages. Letters will also include a $2 bill pre-incentive.
  • Trained research interviewers will be telephoning sampled refugees between January and March, with coverage of 19 different languages in addition to English.
  • Survey responses are confidential. Strict data security protocols will be maintained to ensure that the privacy and security of data are maintained at all times. Responses will be aggregated for an annual report to Congress, as has been done since 1993.

Why the ASR is important:

  • The ASR provides the only nationally representative data on refugees in the U.S.
  • The survey results can help inform policymakers and service providers working to support refugee resettlement.
  • In addition to providing information for ORR’s Annual Report to Congress, the data are also prepared for public use datasets to support researchers interested in studying refugee integration. The 2016 and 2017 data are available to researchers with statistical expertise.

We hope that the new and improved ASR will make a strong contribution to improving evidence for the refugee resettlement field. If you have any questions about the survey or redesign effort, please contact the co-study-leaders Hamutal Bernstein and Robert Santos at: hbernstein@urban.org.  

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