The United States of America is home to the largest number of international migrants in the world. According to the US Census Bureau (2006 American Community Survey), there are 37,547,789 foreign-born persons legally residing in the US, making up 12.5 per cent of the nation's population. Approximately 53 per cent of the foreign-born in the United States hail from Latin America, 25 per cent from Asia, 14 per cent from Europe and 8 per cent from other regions of the world. The United States employs foreign workers through limited guest worker programmes operated by the US Department of Labor. Additionally, the US is home to a large number of irregular migrants (estimated between ten and thirteen million people) who make up a workforce operating without rights or documentation. Opinions vary greatly over whether these irregular migrants, many residing in the United States for a number of years, ought to be deported or granted amnesty and a path to US citizenship. Construction of a 700-mile border fence along the US-Mexico border has been underway since the passage of the Secure Fence Act in October 2006. All other recent attempts to pass immigration reform in the US Congress have been unsuccessful to date.

IOM's regional office in Washington, DC, coordinates with offices in North America and the Caribbean and serves as a liaison with United States Government counterparts, Government of Canada counterparts, IOM offices around the world, along with other international and non-governmental organizations.


Movement, Emergency and Post-crisis Migration Management

IOM Washington provides global liaison, technical and direct field support to IOM Missions funded under US Government contracts and grants. The Community Stabilization Unit also spearheads work in transitional and recovery programming for emergency and post-crisis environments, often in close collaboration with offices of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and specializing in sub-grant management mechanisms. Technical support provided by the Unit for US-funded Missions includes contract and grant review, advice on the US foreign assistance framework, monitoring and evaluation, coordination of competitive contract bidding with profit and non-profit sector partners, and use of the Payment Management System. The Unit also deploys staff to the field in support of the Emergency Post-Crisis Unit in Geneva, and provides a range of programme development, implementation and management support to field work in the stabilization of communities, and in the area of forced migration for populations affected by conflict, disaster and development challenges.

Main Projects

  • Internally Displaced Persons Assistance - Iraq
  • Facilitation of Sustainable Return of Internally Displaced Persons - Sudan


Migration and Development

The Migration for Development in Ethiopia (MIDEth) programme aims to strengthen the institutional capacities of the government of Ethiopia for facilitating the return of Ethiopian professionals to address acute human resources constraints in the country. The project institutionalizes a system for the mobilization and utilization of relevant human, financial and other resources of the Ethiopian diaspora and other suitably qualified professionals. A particular focus is placed on human resource constraints in the health sector, especially medical professionals. As of April 2009, the programme has returned 107 Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia for short assignments. The vast majority of those returned were healthcare professionals.

Main Project

  • Migration for Development in Ethiopia (MIDEth) Programme


Regulating Migration

Return and Reintegration. A 12-month project called "Regional Reintegration of Returnees to CARICOM Countries" aims to contribute to the long-term reintegration of returnees from the United States into their respective societies in three Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states. This voluntary assisted return and reintegration project will significantly strengthen the ability of relevant government agencies in those countries to successfully reintegrate these returnees, and will substantially contribute to national and bilateral efforts to enhance regional security. By providing such assistance to the returnees, the project seeks to turn out individuals who are better equipped to become productive members of society, thereby mitigating the potential for their resorting to criminal activity as the only livelihood option, thus de-stigmatizing returnees within Caribbean society through public information campaigns. The Programme is nearing the end of its second phase in Haiti. Efforts are underway to fully implement the programme in the Bahamas and Guyana.

Main Project

  • Regional Reintegration of Returnees to CARICOM Countries


Migration Policy and Research

The Caribbean's location makes it an attractive transit point for regular and irregular migration. To help regional governments better manage migration, IOM will continue to provide the necessary management tools. Every year, IOM organizes a regional seminar/workshop to build capacities of government officials in the region to address issues related to migration policy.

In addition, management of migration processes in the Caribbean continues to be hampered by the lack of timely, objective and reliable statistics on migration. Although a lot of data are collected, their application in policy-making differs significantly among the individual countries: from countries with more advanced systems to situations where the gathered statistics are very rarely shared at the national inter-institutional and, even less so, at the inter-state level. IOM will implement a Data Sharing Mechanism (DSM) pilot project in Barbados, Guyana, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, and, based on the principles and best practices of the DSM in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Project partners are the Caribbean Single Market Economy (CSME), the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and the Danish Immigration System.


Main Projects

  • Annual Regional Seminar on Mixed Migratory Flows in the Caribbean
  • Migration Data-sharing Mechanism in the Caribbean: A Pilot Project 


Refugee Resettlement 

The United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) operates world-wide with a target of providing resettlement opportunities to tens of thousands of refugees each year. IOM’s multi-disciplinary staff members provide a range of services and support to the USRAP including, but not limited to, case processing, migration health assessments, cultural orientation training, organized transportation and administration of a travel loan and collections program. The Department of Operations and Emergencies (DOE), specifically the Resettlement and Movement Division (RMM), has the organizational responsibility to provide direction, oversight and guidance to IOM’s global support to all resettlement programs. 


Refugee Travel Loans

All refugees arriving in the United States are offered interest-free travel loans by IOM.  Refugees who accept these travel loans are required to sign a promissory note prior to departure, committing themselves to repayment of the debt within 46 months after arrival in the United States. 

IOM arranges for refugee travel using funds furnished by the Department of State, and is mandated to subsequently effect collections on behalf of the Department of State.  Repayments made by refugees toward their loans are returned to the Department of State for use by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) to defray the cost of future refugee travel. 

Travel Loans are initially assigned for collection either to IOM itself or to one of the following loan collecting resettlement agencies:

  • Church World Service, Immigration & Refugee Program (CWS)
  • Domestic & Foreign Missionary Society, Episcopal Migration Ministries (DFMS)
  • Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)
  • International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Main Projects

  • US Refugee Travel Loan Program
  • US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (IRSA)
  • Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS)
  • US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Migration and Refugee Services (USCCB)
  • World Relief Refugee Services (WRRS)


Career Opportunities

Being a member of the IOM team requires the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity. As an international organization with a global mandate, IOM also aims to maintain an equitable geographical balance among its staff. As such, its recruitment efforts target, but are not necessarily limited to, nationals of its Member States. IOM is an equal opportunity employer and seeks committed professionals with a wide variety of skills in the field of migration. IOM staff work in multi-cultural environments, in which diversity and cultural sensitivity are valued.

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