Refugee and Entrant Assistance_Wilson/Fish Program

To develop alternative projects which promote early employment of refugees, certain Amerasians from Viet Nam, Cuban and Haitian entrants, asylees, and certified victims of a severe form of trafficking.

States, voluntary resettlement agencies, and other resettlement organizations may develop innovative
approaches for the provision of refugee cash and medical assistance, otherwise available through the State-administered program.

The purpose of the Wilson-Fish program is to provide integrated services that include cash assistance, medical assistance and other related services described above in order to increase refugees' prospects for early employment and self-sufficiency, reduce their level of welfare dependence, and promote coordination among voluntary resettlement agencies and services providers.

In addition, the WF program allows ORR to ensure that refugee assistance programs exist in every State where refugees are resettled.

Projects must serve all eligible refugees in a community.

There are two categories for applications.

Category one provides an opportunity for an applicant to continue the provision of refugee program services and assistance in a State when the State elects to discontinue participation or is not currently participating in the program of refugee resettlement.

There are currently 7 WF programs which fall under Category one (Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nevada, and South Dakota.

Category two provides applicants an opportunity to implement alternative projects to promote self-sufficiency and coordinate services more effectively.

There are 5 Category II WF programs (Colorado, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Vermont, and San Diego).

Related Programs

Examples of Funded Projects

Some Wilson/Fish projects include: 1) A large state-administered project where the voluntary agencies determine eligibility and are responsible for case management of eligible refugees; and 2) a private voluntary agency that administers cash and medical assistance and social services for refugees not otherwise eligible for TANF and/or Medicaid in a State in which the State elected not to participate in the refugee resettlement program.

Agency - Department of Health and Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services is the Federal government's principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially to those who are least able to help themselves.

Program Accomplishments

In FY 07, 12 grants were awarded. It is anticipated that 12 grants will be awarded in FY 08 and FY 09. Projects provide cash assistance and employment and other social services to newly arrived refugees.

Uses and Use Restrictions

Funds may be used only for the purposes set forth in the grant award.

Assistance is limited to refugees, asylees, Cuban and Haitian entrants, Amerasian immigrants, and certified trafficking victims, as defined in the authorizing Acts.

The refugee must document his immigration status in order to be eligible for assistance.

The scope of services available to refugees from Wilson/Fish grantees is similar to that of the State-Administered Refugee Resettlement Programs, which in turn is similar to regular domestic public assistance programs.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

States, voluntary resettlement agencies, and other nonprofit refugee resettlement organizations may apply to initiate an alternative program.

No separate funding is appropriated for Wilson/Fish demonstration projects.

Funds are drawn instead from funds earmarked for refugee cash and medical assistance grants and social services allocations for the State-administered program (93.566) according to ORR projections.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Refugees, certain Amerasian immigrants, Cuban/Haitian entrants, asylees, and victims of a severe of trafficking are eligible for services and assistance through funded projects in a community. Cash assistance is transitional for up to 8 months; services may be provided for a longer period of time.


Persons for whom assistance is authorized are limited to the following groups of aliens with appropriate documentation from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), formerly Immigration and Naturalizations Services (INS): (1) Refugees admitted under section 207 of the INA and asylees admitted under section 208; (2) Cuban and Haitian entrants with documentation from the BCIS as to status allowed under section 501 of the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980; and certain Amerasian immigrants from Viet Nam admitted under section 584 of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act (1988) or title II of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Acts of 1989, 1990, and 1991. Victims of a severe form of trafficking who have received a certification or eligibility letter from ORR are also eligible. Cost principles for States and local governments are found under OMB Circular No. A-87. Cost principles for nonprofit organizations are found in OMB Circular No. A-122.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

Questions concerning the standing program announcement can be directed to the Office of Refugee Resettlement at (202) 205-5933.

The Wilson/Fish program is excluded from coverage under E.O.


Application Procedures

Awards are granted on a competitive basis, as specified in the program announcements. Each agency desiring to respond to a program announcement is required to submit an application. Applications are reviewed and evaluated pursuant to criteria specified in the program announcement.

Award Procedures

The Director of ORR makes the funding decision on all grant awards.


Closing dates for new projects is April 30 of each year.


Refugee Act of 1980, Section 412, 94 Stat. 111, 8 U.S.C. 1522, as amended, Public Laws 96-212, 97-363, and 99-605; Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980, Title V, 94 Stat. 1809, 8 U.S.C. 1522 note, as amended, Public Laws 96-422, 96-424, 97-35, 100-202, 100-436, 100-461, 101-167, 101-302, 101-513, and 101-517.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

From 60 to 90 days.


Not applicable.


Contingent upon funding availability, grantee performance, and the best interest of the government.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

This program has no statutory formula or matching requirements.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Generally, funds made available for this program will be for 1-year budget period, however the project period is up to 5 years.

Post Assistance Requirements


Progress reports and financial reports are required, usually on a quarterly basis.

Final program and financial reports summarizing the activities and accomplishments of the project in relation to the approved goals and objectives are also required.


Periodic audits are made a part of the system of financial management and internal control to meet terms and conditions of grants and other agreements. "In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-133 (Revised, June 24, 1997), Audits of States, Local Governments, and Nonprofit Organizations, nonfederal entities that expend financial assistance of $300,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $300,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in Circular No. A-133."


Grant recipients are required to keep all financial, business and program reports necessary for program review and audit for the project period and for three years following the end of the project period to insure that funds have been expended in accordance with the regulations, grant terms, and conditions of the program.

Financial Information

Account Identification



Cash and Medical Assistance (CMA) FY 07 $20,000,000; FY 08 $23,000,000; and FY 09 est $23,000,000.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

In FY 2007, grants ranged from $333,322 to $3,532,062.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

The Wilson/Fish Program announcement can be found on the ORR website. All inquiries should be directed to the Information Contacts listed below.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

Not applicable.

Headquarters Office

For information, contact Carl Rubenstein, Office of Refugee Resettlement, Administration for Children and Families, Department of Health and Human Services, 8th Floor West, 370 L'Enfant Promenade, SW., Washington DC 20447. Telephone: (202)205-5933.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

The evaluation criteria for selecting projects is available in the Wilson/Fish Standing Announcement, which can be found at and on the ORR website at

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