Refugee health information for the public

Learn about refugee resettlement and refugee health assessment in Massachusetts.

Refugee Resettlement

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) defines a refugee as an individual who has experienced past persecution or has a well-founded fear of persecution on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Individuals apply for refugee admission to the United States and are screened and interviewed overseas by the U.S. State Department and the Department of Homeland Security.  The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services supports the domestic refugee services, including the Refugee Health Assessment Program, to help refugees and other eligible persons achieve self-sufficiency and become integrated members in the American society.

View an overview of the refugee resettlement process.

Refugee Medical Screening

Refugees and applicants for immigrant visas must undergo a medical screening overseas. The goal of the overseas (pre-departure) medical screening is to ensure that noncitizens entering the United States do not pose a threat to the public health of this country.  

After arrival in the U.S., refugees are eligible for domestic (post-arrival) medical screening services.  The Massachusetts Department of Public Health operationalizes the screening as the Refugee Health Assessment Program. This domestic refugee health assessment is designed to reduce health-related barriers to successful resettle­ment, while protecting the health of Massachusetts resi­dents and the U.S. population.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides Refugee Health Profiles and guidance for overseas (pre-departure) and domestic (post-arrival) medical screening and treatment of refugees.

Refugee Health Assessment Data

Information on refugees who received RHAP services in Massachusetts by year is summarized in tables. These data include persons with refugee status and other persons eligible for the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s benefits and services.

Refugees who Received Health Assessment Services by Country of Origin, before 2022 (Includes refugees and other individuals eligible for services from the Office of Refugee Resettlement.)

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