Refugees and Asylum

When a person has been persecuted or fears that they will be persecuted in their home country due to their religious or political beliefs, race, nationality or membership in a specific social group, they may be granted refugee status or asylum in the U.S. Generally speaking, those seeking asylum are already in the United States and those seeking refugee status are located outside of the United States. Seeking asylum may truly be a life or death situation for some refugees, and as such it is essential to get as much information as possible and to seek legal help from a qualified attorney. Click here to find an immigration lawyer who offers services specifically in relation to asylum proceedings.

Eligibility for Asylum
Who is eligible to seek asylum? Eligibility may vary depending on the specific situation, but the following are the basic requirements:

· The person must meet the definition of a refugee.

· The person must already be in the United States or must be seeking admission to the U.S. at a port of entry.

Refugee Status Defined
A refugee may be defined as a person who is located outside of the U.S., is eligible for admission to the U.S. and who is of special humanitarian concern to the U.S. because they are being persecuted or may be persecuted due to their nationality, race, religion, membership in a particular social group or political beliefs. Refugees are in danger of serious harm if they remain in or return to their home countries.

Applying to Work in the U.S. as an Asylee
If you are granted asylum, you will be able to apply for work in the U.S. immediately. You cannot apply for employment authorization at the same time that you apply for asylum, however. If no decision has been made on your asylum application and 150 days have passed, you may be able to apply for permission to work in the U.S. by filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.

Bringing Your Family to the U.S. as an Asylee
If you have been granted asylum and wish to bring your family to the U.S., you will need to apply within two years of your approval. You may petition to bring your spouse and children (unmarried and under the age of 21) to the U.S. by filing Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition.

Asylee Seeking Permanent Residency
If you were granted asylum and have been living in the United States for at least one year, you may be able to file an application for a green card (permanent residency). This is accomplished by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status.

Interested in applying for asylum or refugee status? Find an immigration attorneyusing our nationwide directory.