At the firm, we understand the importance of freedom and your right to live without fear. We’re here to help you achieve refugee status in the U.S.

No one deserves to live in fear of persecution, judgment, or harassment. According to the United States government, the term “refugee” refers to individuals who meet a set of specific criteria. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) considers a refugee anyone who is of “special humanitarian concern to the United States,” and meet other criteria as well. A refugee must be located outside of the United States.

He/she must be able to demonstrate that they were persecuted or are have reasonable cause to believe that they are in danger of persecution because of racial, religious, political, or social dissention in their home country. Unlike an asylee, refugees are individuals who have not yet entered the United States. They may be at the U.S. border, in an international airport, or in a seaport, but they cannot have officially arrived in America. The United States does not recognize any individuals as refugees who have, in any way, participated in the persecution of another race, religious group, social group, nationality, political party, etc.

Am I eligible for refugee status in the U.S.?

According to the Immigration and Nationality Act, a refugee is “any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality…and is unable or unwilling to avail himself for herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion…”

Refugee status is determined individually, on a case-by-case basis. To determine whether or not you are eligible for refugee status, a USCIS officer will interview you. Interviews are designed to be non-confrontational. Interviews are not designed to intimidate potential U.S. refugees; they are intended to determine whether or not a specific individual qualifies for refugee status in the United States. The officer in charge of the interview will observe all pertinent evidence, including witness testimony.

According to the USCIS, a qualifying refugee:

  • Qualifies under a processing priority
  • Is a refugee, according to United States legal definition
  • Has not permanently resettled in a third country
  • Is otherwise permissible under United States law
  • The USCIS will take into consideration the conditions of you native country, as well as your individual credibility. Officers will also check that security checks have been completed and that the results of the security checks were reviewed and analyzed properly before they were approved.

    The USCIS Refugee Process

    In order to become a refugee in the United States, you must receive a referral to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. If you receive a referral, you may begin filling out an application. There is no fee to fill out this application, and you may include your spouse and children on the refugee application. In special cases, you may include other family members as well. After you have been approved as a refugee, you will receive a medical exam, cultural orientation, and travel planning assistance.

    You may also receive a loan covering travel expenses to the United States. Once you have arrived in the U.S., you may receive financial help and medical assistance. If you are a refugee and you want your family members to join you in the United States, you may fill out Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee relative Petition. This form must be filed within two year of your arrival to the United States. There are no fees attached to you refugee status application. Also, the United States government will not share any information you provide them with your native country.

    Refugee Status and Employment in the United States

    Once you have been granted refugee status in the United States, you may begin working immediately. Once you arrive, you will be given a Form I-94, which will contain your refugee admission stamp. You will also receive a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. After this is filed, you will be eligible to obtain an Employment Authorization Document. While you are waiting for your EAD, you may present your Form I-94 to employers to demonstrate your eligibility for work in the United States.

    How long can I stay in the U.S. under refugee status?

    Unlike U.S. Asylees, refugees are required to apply for permanent residency in the United States after one year. To obtain permanent residency, also known as a “green card,” you must file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status. There is no fee attached to this form and you will not have to pay for fingerprinting or biometric fees. If you have any question or concerns about obtaining refugee status in the United States, talk to a NY immigration attorney from our firm.