Documents of American History II
M2010

1950s: Refugee Relief Act of 1953



U.S. Statutes at Large, Public Law 203, Chp. 336, p. 400-407

AN ACT

For the relief of certain refugees, and orphans, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That this Act may be cited as the ''Refugee Relief Act of 1953''.
Definitions
Sec. 2. (a) ''Refugee'' means any person in a country or area which is neither Communist nor Communist-dominated, who because of persecution, fear of persecution, natural calamity or military operations is out of his usual place of abode and unable to return thereto, who has not been firmly resettled, and who is in urgent need of assistance for the essentials of life or for transportation.
(b) ''Escapee'' means any refugee who, because of persecution or fear of persecution on account of race, religion, or political opinion, fled from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or other Communist, Communist-dominated or Communist-occupied area of Europe including those parts of Germany under military occupation by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and who cannot return thereto because of fear of persecution on account of race, religion or political opinion.
(c) ''German expellee'' means any refugee of German ethnic origin residing in the area of the German Federal Republic, western sector of Berlin, or in Austria who was born in and was forcibly removed from or forced to flee from Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Rumania, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Yugoslavia, or areas provisionally under the administration or control or domination of any such countries, except the Soviet zone of military occupation of Germany.
(d) ''Administrator'' means the administrator of the Bureau of Security and Consular Affairs established in the Department of State pursuant to subsection (b) of section 104 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Special Nonquota Visas; Numbers
Sec. 3. There are hereby authorized to be issued two hundred five thousand special nonquota immigrant visas to aliens, specified in section 4 of this Act, seeking to enter the United States as immigrants and to their spouses and their unmarried sons or daughters under twenty-one years of age, including stepsons or stepdaughters and sons or daughters adopted prior to July 1, 1953, if accompanying them.
Allocation of Special Nonquota Visas
Sec. 4. (a) Special nonquota immigrant visas authorized to be issued under section 3 of this Act shall be allotted as follows:
(1) Not to exceed fifty-five thousand visas to German expellees residing in the area of the German Federal Republic or in the western sectors of Berlin or in Austria: Provided, That the visas issued under this paragraph shall be issued only in the German Federal Republic or in the western sector of Berlin or in Austria.
(2) Not to exceed thirty-five thousand visas to escapees residing in the area of the German Federal Republic or the western sectors of Berlin or in Austria: Provided, That the visas issued under this paragraph shall be issued only in the German Federal Republic or in the western sector of Berlin or in Austria.
(3) Not to exceed ten thousand visas to escapees residing within the European continental limits of the member nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or in Turkey, Sweden, Iran or in the Free Territory of Trieste and who are not nationals of the area in which they reside: Provided, That such visas shall be issued only in the area or areas mentioned in this paragraph.
(4) Not to exceed two thousand visas to refugees who (a) during World War II were members of the armed forces of the Republic of Poland, (b) were honorably discharged from such forces, (c) reside on the date of the enactment of this Act in the British Isles, and (d) have not acquired British citizenship.
(5) Not to exceed forty-five thousand visas to refugees of Italian ethnic origin, residing on the date of the enactment of this Act in Italy or in the Free Territory of Trieste: Provided, That such visas shall be issued only in the area or areas mentioned in this paragraph.
(6) Not to exceed fifteen thousand visas to persons of Italian ethnic origin, residing on the date of the enactment of this Act in Italy or in the Free Territory of Trieste, who qualify under any of the preferences specified in paragraph (2), (3) or (4) of section 203(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act: Provided, That such visas shall be issued only in Italy or in the Free Territory of Trieste.
(7) Not to exceed fifteen thousand visas to refugees of Greek ethnic origin residing on the date of the enactment of this Act in Greece: Provided, That such visas shall be issued only in Greece.
(8) Not to exceed two thousand visas to persons of Greek ethnic origin, residing on the date of the enactment of this Act in Greece, who qualify under any of the preferences specified in paragraph (2), (3) or (4) of section 203(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act: Provided, That such visas shall be issued only in Greece.
(9) Not to exceed fifteen thousand visas to refugees of Dutch ethnic origin residing on the date of the enactment of this Act in continental Netherlands: Provided, That such visas shall be issued only in continental Netherlands.
(10) Not to exceed two thousand visas to persons of Dutch ethnic origin, residing on the date of the enactment of this Act in continental Netherlands, who qualify under any of the preferences specified in paragraph (2), (3) or (4) of section 203 (a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act: Provided, That such visas shall be issued only in continental Netherlands.
(11) Not to exceed two thousand visas to refugees, residing within the district of an American consular office in the Far East: Provided, That such visas shall be issued only in said consular office district and only to refugees who are not indigenous to the area described in this paragraph.
(12) Not to exceed three thousand visas to refugees, residing within the district of an American consular office in the Far East: Provided, That such visas shall be issued only in said consular office district and only to refugees who are indigenous to the area described in this paragraph.
(13) Not to exceed two thousand visas to refugees of Chinese ethnic origin whose passports for travel to the United States are endorsed by the Chinese National Government or its authorized representatives.
(14) Not to exceed two thousand visas to refugees who on the date of the enactment of this Act are eligible to receive assistance from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East: Provided, That such visas shall be issued only in the area described in this paragraph.
(b) The allotments provided in subsection (a) of this section shall be available for the issuance of immigrant visas to the spouses and unmarried sons or daughters under twenty-one years of age, including stepsons or stepdaughters and sons or daughters adopted prior to July 1, 1953, referred to in section 3 of this Act, of persons referred to in subsection (a) of this section.
Orphans
Sec. 5. (a) Not to exceed four thousand special nonquota immigrants visas may be issued to eligible orphans as defined in this Act who are under ten years of age at the time the visa is issued: Provided, That not more than two such special nonquota immigrant visas may be issued to eligible orphans adopted or to be adopted by any one United States citizen and spouse, unless necessary to prevent the separation of brothers or sisters.
(b) When used in this Act the term ''eligible orphan'' shall mean an alien child (1) who is an orphan because of the death or disappearance of both parents, or because of abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from, both parents, or who has only one parent due to the death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from the other parent and the remaining parent is incapable of providing care for such orphan and has in writing irrevocably released him for emigration and adoption; (2) (a) who has been lawfully adopted abroad by a United States citizen and spouse, or (b) for whom assurances, satisfactory to the consular officer to whom a visa application on behalf of the orphan is made, have been given by a United States citizen and spouse that if the orphan is admitted into the United States they will adopt him in the United States and will care for him properly; and (3) who is ineligible for admission into the United States solely because the non-preference portion of the quota to which he would otherwise be chargeable is oversubscribed by applicants registered on the consular waiting list at the time his visa application is made: Provided, That no natural parent of any eligible orphan who shall be admitted into the United States pursuant to this Act shall thereafter, by virtue of such parentage, be accorded any right, privilege, or status under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
(c) The assurances required in this section shall be in lieu of the assurances required in section 7 of this Act.
Adjustment of Status
Sec. 6. Any alien who establishes that prior to July 1, 1953, he lawfully entered the United States as a bona fide nonimmigrant and that because of events which have occurred subsequent to his entry into the United States he is unable to return to the country of his birth, or nationality, or last residence, because of persecution or fear of persecution on account of race, religion, or political opinion, may, within one year after the effective date of this Act, apply to the Attorney General of the United States for an adjustment of his immigration status. If the Attorney General shall, upon consideration of all the facts and circumstances of the case, determine that such alien has been of good moral character for the preceding five years and that the alien was physically present in the United States on the date of the enactment of this Act and is otherwise qualified under all other provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act except that the quota to which he is chargeable is oversubscribed, the Attorney General shall report to the Congress all the pertinent facts in the case. If, during the session of the Congress in which a case is reported or prior to the end of the session of the Congress next following the session in which a case is reported, the Congress passes a concurrent resolution stating in substance that it approves the granting of the status of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence to such alien, the Attorney General is authorized, upon the payment of the required visa fee, which shall be deposited in the Treasury of the United States to the account of miscellaneous receipts, to record the alien's lawful admission for permanent residence as of the date of the passage of such concurrent resolution. If, within the above specified time, the Congress does not pass such a concurrent resolution, or, if either the Senate or the House of Representatives passes a resolution stating in substance that it does not approve the granting of the status of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, the Attorney General shall thereupon deport such alien in the manner provided by law: Provided, That the provisions of this section shall not be applicable to any aliens admitted into the United States under the provisions of Public Law 584, Seventy-ninth Congress, second session (60 Stat. 754), Public Law 402, Eightieth Congress, second session (62 Stat. 6): Provided further, That the number of aliens who shall be granted the status of aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence pursuant to this section shall not exceed five thousand.
Assurances
Sec. 7. (a) Except as otherwise herein provided, no visa shall be issued to any alien under this Act unless an assurance, in accordance with regulations promulgated pursuant to this Act, shall first have been given by a citizen or citizens of the United States that such alien, if admitted into the United States, will be suitably employed without displacing some other person from employment and that such alien and the members of such alien's family who shall accompany such alien and who propose to live with such alien will not become public charges and will have housing without displacing some other person from such housing. The spouse and unmarried dependent sons and daughters under twenty-one years of age, including stepsons and stepdaughters and sons or daughters adopted prior to July 1, 1953, of such alien, shall not be required to have such assurances made in their behalf. The assurances shall be submitted to the Administrator and it shall be the duty of the Administrator to verify the authenticity and bona fides of such assurances and such assurances shall be subject to final acceptance and approval by consular and immigration officers. Blanket assurances, or assurances not submitted by a responsible individual citizen or citizens, shall not be considered as satisfying the requirements of this section. The assurances for employment and housing shall be indexed and filed in such manner so as to show the specific address or addresses in the United States in which both the employment and housing are available, the type of employment and housing which are available, and the conditions and terms of the employment. Each assurance shall be a personal obligation of the individual citizen or citizens giving or submitting such assurance. This subsection shall have no applicability to the alien eligible under paragraph (6), (8) or (10) of section 4 (a) of this Act, if such alien provides satisfactory evidence that he will not become a public charge.
(b) Any alien admitted under this Act and subsequently determined to have been inadmissible under the provisions of this Act at the time of entry shall, irrespective of the date of his entry, be taken into custody and deported in the manner provided by sections 242 and 243 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (66 Stat. 208-214).
(c) Assistance rendered an alien in connection with his transportation to and resettlement in the United States shall not be regarded as a cause for excludability as an alien likely to become a public charge. No alien with respect to whom assurances have been furnished as provided in this section shall be deemed to be a pauper under paragraph (8) of section 212 (a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (66 Stat. 182).
(d) No alien shall be issued a visa under this Act or be admitted into the United States unless he shall present to the consular officer at the time of making application for a visa or to the immigration officer at the time of application for admission (1) a valid unexpired passport or other suitable travel document, or document of identity or nationality, or other documentary evidence that he will be assured of readmission to the country of his nationality, foreign residence or in which he obtains a visa under this Act and (2) a certificate of readmission guaranteeing his readmission to the country in which he obtains a visa under this Act if it is subsequently found that he obtained a visa under this Act by fraud or by misrepresenting a material fact.
Intergovernmental Arrangements
Sec. 8. The Secretary of State may, for the purposes of this Act, make such arrangements with foreign governments and with the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration as are necessary and appropriate for the purpose of financing the overseas transportation of persons who may be issued visas under this Act, such arrangements to be mutually beneficial to the economies of the United States and the countries concerned, as well as to such persons. Such arrangements, where appropriate, may seek to enable immigrants under this Act to transfer into dollar currency personal assets necessary for defraying the cost of transportation and for use in the United States. Arrangements between the United States and the other governments concerned and the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration should also provide for such cooperation and assistance as may be required in the administration of the program authorized under this Act in the territory of the intending immigrant's residence. All transportation by ships or airplanes of aliens under this Act to the United States, the cost of which is defrayed in whole or in part by the Government of the United States, shall be by ships or airplanes registered under the United States flag, if available.
Sec. 9. Within the categories established in section 4 of this Act the determination of the eligibility of persons to receive visas and of the admissibility of such persons into the United States under this Act shall be made without discrimination in favor of or against a race, religion, or the national origin of such persons.
Exemptions from Visa Fees
Sec. 10. Persons receiving visas under this Act shall be exempt from paying the fees prescribed in paragraphs (1) and (2) of section 281 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (66 Stat. 230-231).
Security and Other Investigation; Effect of Misrepresentation
Sec. 11. (a) No alien shall be issued a visa under this Act or be admitted into the United States unless there shall have first been a thorough investigation and written report made and prepared by such investigative agency or agencies of the Government of the United States as the President shall designate, regarding such person's character, reputation, mental and physical health, history and eligibility under this Act, and such investigations in each case shall be conducted in a manner and in such time as the investigative agency or agencies shall determine to be necessary.
(b) No person shall be issued a visa or be admitted into the United States under this Act if the consular officer or the immigration officer knows or has reason to believe that such person is ineligible for a visa or is subject to exclusion from the United States under any provision of the immigration laws or is not eligible under the terms of this Act.
(c) No person shall be issued a visa or be admitted into the United States under this Act unless the consular officer and the immigration officer, after an inspection and examination of such person abroad, are entirely satisfied upon the basis of affirmative evidence adduced by the applicant that the applicant has established his eligibility for a visa and his admissibility into the United States under this Act and under the immigration laws and regulations: Provided, That no person to whom a visa shall be issued shall be exempt from inspection and examination at a port of entry.
(d) No person shall be issued a visa under this Act or be admitted into the United States unless complete information shall be available regarding the history of such person covering a period of at least two years immediately preceding his application for a visa: Provided, That this provision may be waived on the recommendation of the Secretaries of State and Defense when determined by them to be in the national interest.
(e) Any person who shall make a material misrepresentation to any agency of the Government entrusted directly or indirectly with the administration, investigation, enforcement, or any other function relating to the implementation of this Act, for the purpose of gaining admission into the United States as an alien eligible hereunder, shall be excluded from admission into the United States under section 212 (a) (19) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (66 Stat. 183).
Priorities
Sec. 12. Priorities in the consideration of visa applications under this Act, except in the case of applications filed under paragraph (6), (8) or (10) of section 4 (a), without priority in time of issuance of visas as between such priorities or as between priority and nonpriority cases under this Act shall be given to-
(1) Persons whose services or skills are needed in the United States, if such need has been certified to the Administrator, at his request, by the United States Employment Service and who are to be employed in a capacity calling for such services or such skills; and
(2) Persons who are (A) the parents of citizens of the United States, such citizens being at least twenty-one years of age, or (B) spouses or unmarried sons or daughters under twenty-one years of age, including stepsons or stepdaughters and sons or daughters adopted prior to July 1, 1953, of aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence, or (C) brothers, sisters, sons or daughters of citizens of the United States.
Sec. 13. No priority in the consideration of visa applications under this Act shall be given to persons who were determined to be eligible or preliminarily eligible under the provisions of section (2) (c) of Public Law 774, Eightieth Congress, as amended, solely because such persons were determined to be so eligible or preliminarily eligible.
Persons Ineligible; Oath on Admission; Penalties
Sec. 14. (a) No visa shall be issued under this Act to any person who personally advocated or assisted in the persecution of any person or group of persons because of race, religion, or national origin.
(b) Before being issued a visa every alien eighteen years of age or older, authorized to be admitted under this Act, shall take and subscribe an oath or affirmation that he is not and never has been a person specified in subparagraph (A), (B), (C), (D), (E), (F), (G), or (H) of section 212 (a) (28) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (66 Stat. 184-186), except as provided in subparagraph (I) of such section, and shall be liable to prosecution for perjury if such oath or affirmation is willfully false. If any alien not entitled to be issued a visa under this Act and not entitled to be admitted into the United States shall nevertheless gain admission, such alien shall, regardless of the date of his entry, be taken into custody and deported in the manner provided in sections 242 and 243 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (66 Stat. 208-214).
(c) Any person or persons who shall knowingly violate, conspire to violate, induce or attempt to induce any person to violate any provision of this Act shall be guilty of a felony, and upon conviction thereof shall be fined not more than $10,000 or shall be imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.
Applicability of Immigration and Nationality Act
Sec. 15. Except as otherwise expressly provided by this Act all of the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (66 Stat. 163) shall be applicable under this Act.
Loans
Sec. 16. Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law, the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized and directed to make loans not to exceed $5,000,000 in the aggregate, to public or private agencies of the United States for the purpose of financing the transportation from ports of entry within the United States to the places of their resettlement, of persons receiving immigrant visas under this Act, and who lack resources to finance the expenses involved. Such loans, which shall mature not later than June 30, 1963, shall be made under rules and regulations promulgated pursuant to this Act: Provided, That such loans shall bear interest at a rate of 3 per centum per annum on the unpaid balance from their maturity date until final payment. No public or private agency shall be eligible to receive a loan under the provisions of this Act while such agency is in default in the payment of any loan made to it pursuant to the provisions of the Displaced Persons Act of 1948, as amended.
Eligible Aliens to Be Nonquota Immigrants
Sec. 17. Any alien granted a visa under this Act shall be deemed a nonquota immigrant for the purposes of the Immigration and Nationality Act (66 Stat. 163).
Authorization of Appropriations
Sec. 18. There are hereby authorized to be appropriated such funds as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this Act.
Reports
Sec. 19. The Administrator shall report to the President and the Congress on the operation of the program established under this Act on or about January 15 and June 15 of each year and shall submit a final report not later than June 15, 1957. Such reports shall include full and complete details regarding the administration of the Act and the administration of the funds provided for in section 16 of this Act.
Termination
Sec. 20. No immigrant visa shall be issued under this Act after December 31, 1956.
Approved August 7, 1953.


Last update: February 28th, 2003.
BACK