What is the process of receiving asylee or refugee status?

How do I become a refugee?

To qualify as a refugee, a person must show the following:

      They are located outside of the United States

      Their situation is of special humanitarian concern to the United States

      They can show that they were persecuted or in fear of persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group

      Are not firmly resettled in another country

      Are otherwise admissible to the United States

The refugee process beings with a referral to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), who will facilitate the process of applying for refugee status with the USCIS. Spouses and unmarried children under 21 (and sometimes other family members) may be included in the process. If a person has a same-sex partner they cannot legally marry in their country, they may apply for refugee status and have their cases cross-referenced.

What about asylum?

To seek asylum, people must show that they will suffer or have suffered qualifying persecution in their home country. People in the United States who are seeking asylum must file Form I-589 Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal within one year of arriving in the U.S. There are limited exceptions to this one-year filing requirement. If after 150 days the application has not been decided upon, an asylum seeker may apply for the right to work in the U.S.

If asylum is granted, an asylee may petition for their spouse and unmarried children under 21 to be able to enter the U.S. if they were outside the country at the time of filing for asylum and therefore were not included in the application. The petition for family members must be filed within two years of being granted asylum unless there are humanitarian reasons to excuse the delay.

How do refugees and asylees become permanent residents?

Refugees and asylees may apply for permanent residence one year after being granted their status by filing Form I-485, application to register permanent residence or adjust status. Forms must also be filed for all family members who entered the country under the original refugee or asylee’s case.

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