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Immigration Law Blog

Friday, August 15, 2014

Refugees & Asylum

Some immigrants to the U.S. are classified as “refugees” or granted asylum. Refugee status or asylum is granted to people who have been persecuted or are afraid they may be persecuted because of their political opinion, race, religion, nationality, or membership in a particular social group.

Refugee status can be granted to people who meet the requirements of refugees and who are of special humanitarian concern to the U.S.  These are generally people who are no longer in their country and who can’t return home for fear of serious harm. A refugee cannot be anyone who participated in the persecution of another person on account of race, religion, nationality, or membership in a particular group. Asylum status is similar to refugee status – asylum status is available to people who meet the definition of refugee, who are already in the U.S, and are seeking admission to the U.S. at a port of entry.  

In order to be granted refugee status, a person must receive a referral to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. If you do receive a referral, you can get help to fill out your application and will be interviewed by an immigration officer abroad. You may be able to receive refugee status for both yourself and family members. Once you’re granted refugee status, you will receive a medical exam, an orientation, help with your travel plans, and a loan for travel to the U.S. Once you’re here, you may be able to receive medical assistance and cash assistance. Refugees are authorized to work in the U.S. Once they’re admitted, they may want to become a permanent resident via a green card.

In order to be granted asylum status, you must already be in the United States. To apply for asylum, you should file an application within a year of your arrival in the U.S. If you wish to work in the U.S. while you have asylum status, you can work immediately after your asylum status has been granted. If it hasn’t been granted, you can work if 150 days have passed since you filed your application. People granted asylum status may wish to apply for a permanent residence – they must simply file an extra immigration form.


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