Muhammad is a middle-aged family man from Iraq.

Where are you from? (City, country)

Thiqar, Iraq

Where are you being resettled to?

Seattle, Washington, USA

How long ago did you apply for resettlement?

In 2003 with UNHCR, then my file was transferred to IOM in 2008.

How did you hear about IOM?

In Iraq in 2003 there was no freedom of the press so people were only vaguely aware of the UN, I didn’t learn about resettlement until I came to Amman, by word of mouth.

Are you traveling with any members of your family/being resettled near any family or friends?

Yes I’m traveling with my wife and four children. My mother and brother also applied for resettlement with UNHCR, but they are still waiting to be approved.

How has the Cultural Orientation course influenced your expectations about life in your country of destination?

Our teacher is great; I’ve learned a lot of useful information, such as the fact that you need to find work and support yourself in the U.S., you can’t just rely on handouts, because people don’t receive enough to support their families on just that.

What other sources of information have helped give you an idea of what to expect? (ie, friends’ stories, online forums, TV…)

Everything, friends, TV, the internet.

What is your biggest fear or worry about the new life that awaits you?

I’m not worried about anything because I know what my goals are, and I’m sure I will achieve them.

What are you most excited about?

The education and future that this opportunity will give my children.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Resettlement agencies need to communicate better to refugees about why some cases take many years to be approved, while some families travel as little as nine months after applying. I realize that these decisions are not up to IOM and UNHCR, but not everyone understands this and people are often worried that delays mean they are somehow guilty of something.