Processing Soviet Refugees

Gao ID: T-NSIAD-89-47 September 14, 1989

GAO discussed some of the significant changes in Soviet refugee processing during 1989. GAO found that: (1) the overall processing time for refugees processed through Vienna and Rome remained constant at about 80 to 90 days, but the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was responsible for a smaller portion of the processing time than it was previously; (2) refugees continued to experience processing delays resulting from the increased number of Soviet applicants, understaffed voluntary agencies in Rome, and insufficient INS staff in Moscow; (3) the number of refugees in Italy grew from about 7,600 in February to about 16,000 in July, most of which were in some stage of processing; (4) the need for additional consular staff, support personnel, and office and housing space has limited INS ability to increase its Moscow staff; (5) although there were 45,300 refugee Soviet admissions allocated for 1989 and about 90,000 refugees expected to apply, only 31,000 entered the United States by the end of August and fewer than 37,000 would enter by the end of the fiscal year; (6) because of increased denial rates, INS planned to improve its adjudications through training programs and management changes; and (7) the administration planned to eliminate Vienna and Rome as processing routes and process all applications in Moscow in order to reduce processing costs, avoid an unpredictable flow of applicants, and reduce the impacts of processing delays and denials on applicants.

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