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Annual Survey of Refugees 2016-2018

Since the 1980s, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) has conducted the Annual Survey of Refugees (ASR), which collects information on refugees during their first five years after their arrival in the U.S. The ASR is the only scientifically-collected source of national data on refugees’ progress toward self-sufficiency and integration. ORR uses the ASR results alongside other information sources to fulfill its Congressionally-mandated reporting following the 1980 Refugee Act. Historically, the microdata from these surveys have been unavailable to researchers.

In spring 2017, ORR completed its 50th Annual Survey of Refugees. The data from the ASR offer a window into respondents’ first five years in the United States and show the progress that refugee families made towards learning English, participating in the workforce, and establishing permanent residence.

This is the first year since the ASR’s inception that the government has made available the underlying dataset for researchers to access and conduct their own analyses. The dataset is now available through the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research.

The Urban Institute has been working on this survey for the past few years, collecting and analyzing the ASR, preparing the public use dataset, and leading a survey redesign.

The dataset offers a nationally representative survey of refugees who were resettled in the US between FY 2011 and FY 2015. This period precedes the changes to the refugee admissions system put in place by the current administration in FY 2017, when refugee resettlement numbers dropped.

It includes data on 1,500 households and more than 4,000 individuals. Reflecting the demographics of refugee inflows in that period, refugees report the following countries as the most common countries of origin, among many others: Iraq (22 percent), Burma (17 percent), Bhutan or Myanmar (12 percent), Somalia (7 percent), and Nepal (5 percent).

The dataset also includes information about the following:

  • demographics and household structure
  • employment, wages, and income
  • educational background, education being pursued in the US, English proficiency, and participation in children’s schooling
  • geographic mobility
  • green card adjustment
  • health conditions and health insurance
  • public benefits receipt
  • housing
These fields are compatible with DCAT, an RDF vocabulary designed to facilitate interoperability between data catalogs published on the Web.
Release Date
Spatial / Geographical Coverage Location
United States
Temporal Coverage
2016-01-01 00:00 to 2016-12-31 00:00
Contact Name
Urban Institute
Contact Email
Public Access Level
These fields are specific to Urban Institute.
Related Content
Data Dictionary Files
Citation Requirements

Urban Institute. 2016. Annual Survey of Refugees. Accessible from Data originally sourced from Annual Survey of Refugees 2016, developed at the Urban Institute, and made available under the ODC-BY 1.0 Attribution License.