WASHINGTON (Sputnik), Leandra Bernstein — Syrians fleeing their war-torn country are more likely to get to the United States through the visa lottery than the rigorous refugee processing program, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) senior US resettlement officer Larry Yungk told Sputnik.
“There are more Syrians who won the visa lottery than came through the refugee program [to the United States],” Yungk said on Monday.
Since 2011, approximately 1,900 Syrian refugees were resettled in the United States, while a total of 30,000 Syrians made it to the country in other ways, Yungk explained.
“It is not the easy way to get to the United States,” he said of the refugee program.
In September, President Barack Obama announced the United States would accept 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year.
Yungk explained the US security procedures for processing refugees are very stringent.
“No other category of person has a one-on-one interview with [the Department of Homeland Security] outside the United States, only refugees,” Yungk said, adding that the interviews can last “four to six hours.”
The US State Department estimates it can take between 18 to 24 months for the United States to vet a refugee and bring him or her to the country.
The State Department Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration acknowledges there are as many as 250,000 refugees from across the globe being processed through the US system at any given time.