How to qualify for a green card for asylees and refugees

If you were admitted to the United States as a refugee one year ago or more — or, if you were granted asylum one year ago or more — you may be eligible for a green card, also known as permanent residence.  Many asylees and refugees have chosen to settle in the Phoenix area — from places such as Iran, Iraq, and Syria, for example — and obtaining a green card is an important step in creating a new life for you and your family.

As noted here, a green card is a path to citizenship and offers numerous other benefits along the way, such as the ability to work, travel in and out of the United States, and bring family members into the country.

If you are interested in taking this step, you will need to file Form I-485, pay a filing fee, and submit to a background check.  The requirements are fairly simple.  You only need to show your that:

  • (1) you were in fact granted asylum or admitted as a refugee;
  • (2) you continue to meet the definition of an asylee or refugee (i.e., the conditions in your home country have not improved)
  • (3) you have resided in the United States for one year or more under that status; and
  • (4) you are otherwise admissible to the United States.

Your family members may be included

If your spouse and children obtained asylee or refugee status based on what happened to you in your home country (also known as derivative asylee or refugee status), they may also apply for a green card, assuming they meet the requirements above.  They must complete their own green card applications, and all of your family’s applications may be mailed together to the USCIS Nebraska Servicing Center.

The effect of a recent criminal conviction

If you have recently been convicted of crime, you should speak to an immigration attorney about whether you can still qualify for a green card based on your asylee or refugee status.  If you and your attorney decide to move forward with the application, you will have to include a request for a waiver of inadmissibility (I-602) with your green card application.  For more information about that waiver, please see here.

If you are interested in applying for a green card based on your status as an asylee or refugee, contact me today.

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