WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Vice President announced April 21 that the United States would admit up to 20,000 Kosovar Albanians to the United States as refugees. The program is designed primarily to relieve pressure on Macedonia by providing safe refuge for Kosovars there who have family ties in the United States, or who are in vulnerable circumstances. The United States remains steadfast in its determination to restore peace in Kosovo and ensure conditions that will permit return. Our commitment now is to provide protection, which is best accomplished legally under our refugee admissions program. We expect most of the Kosovars admitted to the United States under this program will want to return, and the U.S. Government will assist those who wish to do so when conditions permit.
The United States participation is part of a multinational effort to assist the countries neighboring Kosovo who have received refugees forced out by ethnic cleansing. In these evacuations, we will work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and nongovernmental organizations.
If you have family members among the refugee population in Macedonia whom you wish to bring to the United States, you should contact a voluntary agency which resettles refugees in your community as soon as possible. A list of those agencies is attached. You may also call 1-800-727-4420 to locate an agency in your area. You will be asked to complete an application giving the biographic information, relationship and location of your relatives in Macedonia, and noting your willingness to help them come to the United States. This application will be forwarded to the country where your relative is located. Persons who have relatives among the refugee population in Albania may also fill out an application, although the focus of this program initially will be in Macedonia. If you do not know where your relative is, you may need to ask the American Red Cross to help you trace them. If your family members are separated, you should inform the voluntary agency affiliate helping you and give them as much information as possible.
All applicants must be interviewed by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and undergo a medical examination to be admitted to the United States as refugees. These entry procedures will be expedited to the extent possible so that your relatives will arrive quickly once they are located and processed. You will be notified by the voluntary agency when your family members are scheduled to arrive.