Green Cards for Asylees and Their Benefits

When you come to the United States seeking to escape persecution in your home country, receiving asylum is everything. The United States is one of the top destinations for those seeking asylum every year.

Asylees are different from refugees in that refugees receive refugee status and may travel to the U.S. while abroad, whereas asylees apply for asylum at the border or after they have already entered the United States.

If you receive asylum after facing persecution in your home country, you can remain in the United States legally. After one year, you will be eligible to apply for an asylum green card.

What Is an Asylum Green Card?

A person seeking asylum is anyone who entered the United States to escape persecution in their home country. A person can be granted asylum status whether or not they actually faced persecution or there was just the threat of persecution. Additionally, it does not matter whether they enter the country legally or not.

The persecution faced at home can be due to their:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Affiliation with a social group
  • Political views

After a year has passed since you were granted asylum, you can apply for an asylum green card. This will give you the right to remain in the U.S. even if conditions change back in your home country.

Eligibility Criteria for an Asylum Green Card

Those with asylum status can apply for a green card while in the United States. This process is called adjustment of status and an asylee will be eligible if they meet the following requirements:

  • Physical presence in the U.S. for at least one year
  • Continue to meet the definition of a refugee
  • Not firmly resettled in any foreign country
  • Admissibility for asylee green card

Physical Presence in the U.S. for at Least One Year

Before you can be eligible to change your asylum status to permanent resident status and obtain your green card, you must have established a year of physical presence in the United States. The clock will begin on the day that your asylum is granted unless you are outside of the U.S. at the time. In this case, the clock will start when you cross the border.

Physical presence in the U.S. for a year means that you need to spend 365 days in the country. If you travel abroad for any amount of time, those days do not count towards your total. Because of this, it can actually take more than a year to reach your total. Make sure to count your days if you leave the country.

Continue to Meet the Definition of a Refugee

When applying for asylum, the asylee must prove that they have a legitimate fear of persecution in their home country. This must still hold true at the time that the refugee applies for an asylee green card.

If conditions have changed in your home country, or the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) terminates your asylum status based on new evidence that you did not actually qualify for refugee status when it was first granted, you will not be able to get an asylum green card and may have to leave the country.

Not Firmly Resettled in Any Foreign Country

If a person has been offered resident status, citizenship, or another form of permanent resettlement in a country other than the one from which they are fleeing persecution, they will not be eligible for asylum or to get an adjustment of asylee status in the United States.

Admissibility for Asylee Green Card

In order for an applicant to get a change of status and obtain an asylum green card, they must be admissible when USCIS processes their application. There are various factors that could affect your admissibility, including reasons involving:

  • Health issues
  • Criminal activity
  • Security concerns
  • Illegal entrants
  • Immigration violators
  • Ineligibility for citizenship
  • Previous removal from the country
  • Practicing polygamists
  • Guardians are required to accompany helpless persons
  • Child abduction
  • Unlawful voting
  • Renouncing citizenship to avoid taxation

How to Apply for an Asylum Green Card

To apply to trade your asylum status for a green card, you must submit Form I-485, along with supporting documents. This application for a change of status along with supporting documents can be submitted to USCIS after you have been in the country with asylum status for one full year. When you file, you will also need to pay a filing fee.

After filing, you will receive a notice of your appointment for biometrics. You must attend this biometrics appointment, where you will be fingerprinted, have your photo taken, and supply your signature.

Next, you may have to attend a green card interview. However, this is not mandatory in all cases. USCIS will let you know if an interview is required or not. Once your green card gets approved, you will receive it in the mail within 120 days.

Required Documents and USCIS Forms for Asylee Adjustment of Status

Documents you will likely need include:

  • Form I-693, Report of Medical Exam and Vaccination Record
  • Proof of your asylum status
  • Evidence of one-year physical presence in the U.S.
  • Two passport-style photographs
  • Copy of your government-issued ID with a photograph
  • Copy of your birth certificate
  • Copy of the passport page containing your admission stamp into the United States

These are just some of the documents that you may need when petitioning USCIS for an adjustment of your asylum status. Your situation may call for an altered list of documents. An immigration attorney or an immigration solutions company can help you determine the specific documents needed for your application.

Processing Time for Asylum Green Card

The time it takes to complete an adjustment of status can vary greatly depending on several factors, including if all your paperwork was correctly submitted and the caseload of your local USCIS office. At the earliest, you can expect to wait eight months for an asylum green card, but it can easily take up to 14 months.

You can check the status of your asylum green card application on the USCIS website.

Benefits of Getting a Green Card as an Asylee

Those who have asylum status are not required to apply to become permanent residents. However, once you are eligible to apply it is likely in your best interest to do so. Green card holders receive many benefits not available to those with asylum status.

Being a permanent resident makes traveling to and from the U.S. much easier. Additionally, applying for a green card protects your right to remain in the country. You will no longer face having to leave if you no longer qualify as an asylee. Becoming a green card holder is also the first step on the path toward citizenship, which opens up additional benefits.

Bringing Family Members to the U.S. as an Asylee

Certain family members may be eligible for asylum status once it has been granted to you. Receiving asylum as the relative of a primary applicant is known as a derivative asylum. These family members can come to live in the U.S. with you.

When you meet the requirements for permanent residency, they will likely be able to achieve permanent residency status as well. As long as they meet the one-year residency requirement, they should be eligible to apply. Your family members can apply for a green card with or without you and will even be able to apply if you choose not to pursue permanent residency.

Get Help With Your Asylum Green Card Paperwork

At ImmigrationDirect, we give you the tools you need to ensure that all your paperwork gets filed correctly the first time so that you don’t face any avoidable delays in getting your green card. Get help with filling out your application for a green card for an asylee by contacting us today.

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