Newcomer Rights and Responsibilities

It is important for newcomers to learn about their rights and responsibilities related to refugee status and status adjustment.  From requesting interpretation to repaying a travel loan, these rights and responsibilities will allow newcomers to safely navigate U.S. freedoms and laws. On this page, explore a variety of activities, complete lesson plans, and additional resources that address key messages from the Newcomer Rights and Responsibilities Objectives & Indicators. 

Activity Bank

Understanding Mailing Addresses in the United States 

This activity is ideal for engaging all family members in learning about mailing addresses in the United States and their responsibility to report address changes. Use in-person or virtually.  Recommended for domestic CO, but may be adapted for overseas CO. 

  1. Ask participants: What was the address system like in your country/ies of origin and/or protection? How would a person find another person’s home or a store in a community? What would you do to communicate your address if you moved?
  2. Explain to participants that in the U.S., every house/apartment/building has a unique address that is different than others. Explain to participants that it is very important for all family members to memorize their mailing address as they will need it to find their route home, fill out forms, in case of emergency, receive mail, etc.
  3. Ask participants: What questions do you have about mailing addresses in the United States? Record responses.
  4. Select an example address (i.e., resettlement agency address, famous landmark in the U.S., such as the White House: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500) to explain to participants the parts of an address:
    • Building number
    • Street name
    • City, State
    • Zip Code
  5.  If conducting post-arrival, ask participants: Do you know your address? Work with participants to review their address and the different parts.
  6. Explain to participants that it is their responsibility to report changes in address through the AR-11 form.
  7. Check that participants’ questions from the start of the activity have been answered. If it is not possible to answer all the questions, communicate a plan for additional follow-up. Ask participants to continue memorizing their address after the CO session.

  • If conducting post-arrival, obtain participants mailing address for the later part of the activity 

  • If conducting this activity remotely, be mindful of protecting participants’ privacy.  
  • If conducting by phone, and as appropriate, ask participants to text their address as practice. 

Rights and Responsibilities Matching  

This activity is ideal to identify different rights and responsibilities refugees have in the U.S. Use in-person or virtually. 

  1. Ask participants: What does the phrase “to have rights” mean to you? What does the word “responsibilities” mean to you?  
  2. Write or show the words “rights” and “responsibilities” on board or screen. You can also place pieces of paper of these words on the floor. 
  3. Share rights and responsibilities images. Ask participants to identify which images are rights, which are responsibilities. Have participants either move the images or move the images on the screen. 
  4. Review and correct answers as necessary.  
  5. Ask participants: Why is it important to understand your rights and responsibilities in the U.S.? 


Rights and Responsibilities using the Settle Inapp  

This activity is ideal for covering rights and responsibilities in the U.S., including citizenship and residency, and what refugees can and cannot do under their refugee status. Use in-person or virtually.  

  1. Ask participants: What can you do while under refugee status? What can you not do? 
  2. Explain to participants that refugees must follow certain rules while under refugee status, such as travel outside the U.S. or to their country of origin. Explain to participants that they can apply for permanent residency after one year in the U.S. and apply for citizenship after five years as a permanent resident. 
  3. Ask participants: What questions do you have about your status in the U.S.? What questions do you have about permanent residency and citizenship? Record responses.  
  4. Access Settle In (available in multiple languages) either through the mobile or desktop app.   
  5. Open the “U.S. Laws” chapter of  Settle In and then select the lesson: Your Rights and Responsibilities.  
  6. Work with participants and coach participants on completing the lesson on Settle In. Have participants complete the actions collectively, in pairs, or individually, either through a shared screen or on a digital device (laptop, tablet, or smartphone). As appropriate, monitor progress and assist participants as needed in navigating the technology. 
  7. Compare their proposed questions from the beginning of the activity with what they actually learned in completing the lesson. Provide additional information as necessary.  

  • Computer or other digital device for using the  Settle In app. If using desktop, access to reliable WiFi 

  • Based on participants’ digital abilities and digital access, you can have participants complete the chapter and lesson either before class to help generate discussion or after class as a review.  
  • If additional guidance on using technology during Cultural Orientation is needed, please reference CORE’s  How  to  Integrate  Digital  Technology  document or online course. 
  • For more information on Settle Insee CORE’s About Settle In page. 


Additional Resources