US to reopen refugee applications for Iranian minorities

US to reopen refugee applications for Iranian religious minorities
2 min read
Washington, D.C.
26 November, 2021
The move means that around 90 refugees who have been stranded in Vienna for several years will now be able to continue their long-delayed journey to the US.
Refugee rights groups say the FBI has been using a discredited vetting technique in which applicants have been rejected based on coming from Muslim-majority countries (Getty)

Following a lawsuit by a refugee rights group and a multinational law firm, the United States has agreed to reopen the settlement application process for dozens of persecuted minorities from Iran.

The move means that around 90 refugees who have been stranded in Vienna for several years due to the previous administration’s policy of extreme vetting will now be able to continue their long-delayed journey to the US.

“Under the programme, applicants were only meant to spend a short period in Vienna. As a result, they sold their belongings in Iran. They found themselves there for years, having difficulty finding work, living, and learning the language, all while trying to reunite with their families in the US,” Kate Meyer, a litigation staff attorney with the International Refugee Assistance Project, a plaintiff in the case, told The New Arab.

“The Trump administration carries a lot of blame for the extreme vetting of Muslim majority countries, but the infrastructure for the discrimination predates the Trump era. It’s time to re-evaluate.”

According to a statement by IRAP, they learned that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been using a discredited vetting technique to automatically reject refugees from Muslim-majority countries.

“The program was created to provide pathways for persecuted minorities to they could practice their religion freely. We’re just thrilled that this is providing them with an equal opportunity to come to the US. We hope this will have a positive effect on refugee vetting more broadly,” Meyer said.

The settlement, which will still need to be approved by a Judge, will allow plaintiffs to have their applications reopened with the aim by the US government of processing them within three months.