Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program

The Unaccompanied Refugee Minor (URM) program provides culturally and linguistically appropriate foster care and independent living placements for refugee-eligible unaccompanied minors in the United States. The goals of the URM program are first to reunify program youth with family or kin and second to provide programming that facilitates social, cultural and economic integration.

Although some of the first unaccompanied children placed in Colorado were Cuban in the 1960s, the URM program was developed in 1979 to address the needs of thousands of children in Southeast Asia without a parent or guardian to care for them. Nationally, the URM program is implemented through a partnership between the United States Department of Population, Refugees, and Migration and the Office of Refugee Resettlement by placing these children in foster placements through Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In Colorado, the Colorado Department of Human Services administers the URM program through a collaborative partnership between the Colorado Refugee Services Program and the Division of Child Welfare. The program began in El Paso County in 2008 through foster placements at Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains. Currently, youth in the URM program are placed all along the Front Range in the custody of El Paso County and Denver County Departments of Human Service. Funding for the URM program comes from the Office of Refugee Resettlement. URM programs administered by states differ from the federally administered Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) program, operated through the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Learn more about the differences between these programs.

URM eligibility

The URM program is fully funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which determines eligibility for the program. Learn more about the eligibility requirements on ORR's website. Applications for the URM Program must be submitted to the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Learn more about the application process.

  • Refugee children and youth live outside the United States are accepted into the URM program through the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration,
  • Children and youth in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement's Unaccompanied Alien Children's program must be determined unaccompanied (i.e. without a parent or guardian) by the Office of Refugee Resettlement and younger than age 18 at the time they enroll in the program, and
  • Refugee minors can become eligible for the URM program after arrival in the U.S. through a reclassification process (e.g. following family breakdown or a death in the family, etc.). 

Unaccompanied youth eligible for the URM program must have one of the following legal statuses:

  • Refugees,
  • Asylees,
  • Cuban and Haitian Entrants,
  • Victims of Trafficking (T-visa for T-Visa eligibility letter),
  • Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJS) meeting certain criteria,
  • Afghan Evacuee with Humanitarian Parolee Status, or
  • and U Status Recipients (victims of a qualifying crime).
Unaccompanied children and youth in the United States in the following categories are eligible for the URM Program
CATEGORY ACCEPTABLE DOCUMENTATION OF STATUS
Refugees as outlined at 8 USC 1522(d) in cases where they become unaccompanied while living in the United States because there has been a family breakdown.

I-94 Arrival/departure record

I-571 Refugee Travel Document

I-766 Employment Authorization Document

I-730 Approval Letter

Asylees pursuant to 8 USC 1158.

I-94 Arrival/departure record

I-571 Refugee Travel Document

I-766 Employment Authorization Document

I-730 Approval Letter

Order of an Immigration Judge Granting Asylum

Asylum Grant Letter from a USCIS Asylum Office

Written decision from the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA

Cuban and Haitian Entrants in accordance with the requirements in 45 CFR 401.2.

For more information about Cuban/Haitian entrant status and documentation, see the Documentation Requirements for the Refugee Resettlement Program.

I-94 Arrival/departure record

I-766 Employment Authorization Document

A Cuban or Haitian passport showing parole

I-221 Order to Show Cause and Notice of Hearing

I-862 Notice to Appear

I-220A Order of Release on Recognizance

I-122 Notice to Applicant Detained for a Hearing Before an Immigration Judge

I-221S Order to Show Cause, Notice of Hearing and Warrant for Arrest

Copy of I-589 date stamped by the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR)

USCIS receipt for filing I-589

Copy of I-485 date stamped by EOIR

EOIR-26

Other applications for relief that have been date stamped by EOIR

Other documentation pertaining to an applicant\'s removal, exclusion or deportation proceeding

Victims of Human Trafficking as defined at 22 USC 7105(b)(1)(C).

Eligibility Letter from ACF Office on Trafficking in Persons (OTIP)

T Visa

I-797 Notice of Action indicating T status

Special Immigrant Juveniles in accordance with the requirements in 8 USC 1232(d)(4).

I-797 Notice of Action indicating SIJS status, i.e. evidence of approved I-360, or evidence of approved I-360 and approved I-485 or

Visa indicating SIJS status with SL class of admission code or

I-551 indicating SIJS status with SL class of admission code and evidence that at the time a Dependency Order was issued, was either: in the custody of the ORR Unaccompanied Children Program or receiving federal benefits or services as a Cuban/Haitian Entrant

 
U Status Recipients as authorized by 8 USC 1232(d)(4).

I-797 Notice of Action indicating U status

U Visa

I-94 Arrival/departure record showing admission in U status

 

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