Refugee, Asylum and International Operations Directorate


Jennifer B. Higgins is the associate director of Refugee, Asylum and International Operations (RAIO).


What We Do

We provide immigration, protection and humanitarian services for people who are:

  • Fleeing oppression, persecution or torture;
  • Facing urgent humanitarian situations; and,
  • Best served in our international offices, such as military members who are serving overseas and permanent residents who need replacement documents to return to the U.S.

We protect national security, combat fraud, and prevent ineligible individuals from immigrating to the U.S. through careful screening, vigilant reviews and sound adjudications.


Our global presence includes:

  • Offices in Washington, D.C., including Headquarters components and the Refugee Corps;
  • Two domestic offices that adjudicate overseas applications not requiring interviews;
  • 17  international offices; and
  • Eight domestic asylum offices.

Our officers travel abroad to assist refugees and travel within the U.S. to adjudicate asylum benefits. 


RAIO is made up of three divisions:

The Refugee Affairs Division staff provide resettlement opportunities to qualified refugees from around the globe while ensuring the integrity of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and our national security.

The Asylum Division manages the U.S. affirmative asylum process, which allows individuals who are already in the U.S. (or at a port of entry), to remain here because they have been persecuted or fear persecution. The individual must not be in removal proceedings to apply under affirmative asylum procedures.

The International Operations Division, with offices around the world, is the face of USCIS abroad. These offices reunite families, enable adoptive children to come to join permanent families in the U.S., consider parole requests from individuals outside the U.S. for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit, and provide information services and travel documents to people around the world.

RAIO Training Programs and Materials

Our success depends on a well-trained workforce. With this goal in mind, RAIO has developed comprehensive training programs for its officer staff. The RAIO Directorate-level training branch develops materials and conducts training for all new RAIO officers. In addition, each RAIO division has its own training section that is responsible for job-specific training for their officers.

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