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Refugee and Asylum


Who is a Refugee?

Under United States law Section 101(a)(42) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), a refugee is someone who:

1 Is located outside of the United States

2 Is of special humanitarian concern to the United States

3 Demonstrates that they were persecuted or fear persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group

4 Is not firmly resettled in another country

5 Is admissible to the United States

A refugee does not include anyone who ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in the persecution of any person on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

The Refugee Process

You must receive a referral to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for consideration as a refugee. For more information on the referral criteria, read below.

If you receive a referral, you will receive help filling out your application and then be interviewed abroad by a USCIS officer who will determine whether you are eligible for refugee resettlement. Eligibility for refugee status is determined on a case-by-case basis through an interview with a specially-trained USCIS officer. The interview is non-adversarial and is designed to obtain information about an individual’s refugee claim and eligibility for resettlement to the United States.

During the interview, USCIS officer examines all relevant evidence, including testimony, to determine if the applicant:

1 qualified under a designated processing priority.

2 meets the definition of a refugee.

3 is not firmly resettled in a third country.

4 is otherwise admissible under U.S. law.

In making this determination USCIS officer considers the conditions in the country of origin and evaluates the individual’s credibility. The officer also confirms that security checks have been completed and the results of the checks are reviewed and analyzed before approval.

Your case may include your spouse, child (unmarried and under 21 years of age), and in some limited circumstances, other family members. If your case is referred to the USRAP, you will receive help filling out your paperwork. You will be interviewed abroad by a USCIS officer who will determine whether you are a refugee.

There is no fee to apply for refugee status. The information you provide is not shared with your home country.

What is The United States Refugee Admissions Program USRAP?

Every year, immigration law requires that Executive Branch officials:

1 Review the refugee situation or emergency refugee situation.

2 Project the extent of possible participation of the United States in resettling refugees.

3 Discuss the reasons for believing that the proposed admission of refugees is justified by humanitarian concerns, grave humanitarian concerns or is otherwise in the national interest.

Following consultations (discussions) with cabinet representatives and Congress, a determination is drafted for signature by the President. The Presidential Determination establishes the overall admissions levels and regional allocations of all refugees for the upcoming fiscal year. No refugees may be admitted in the new fiscal year until the Presidential Determination has been signed.

United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) Partners & their Roles

The USRAP is an interagency effort involving a number of governmental and non-governmental partners both overseas and in the United States.

The following agencies are involved in this effort:

1 Department of State/Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) – PRM has overall USRAP management responsibility overseas and has lead in proposing admissions ceilings and processing priorities.

2 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) – UNHCR refers cases to the USRAP for resettlement and provides important information with regard to the worldwide refugee situation.

3 Resettlement Support Centers (RSC), previously referred to as Overseas Processing Entities (OPE) – Under cooperative agreement with the Department of State, RSCs consist of international organizations or non-governmental organizations that carry out administrative and processing functions, such as file preparation and storage, data collection and out-processing activities.

4 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – Within DHS, U.S. Citizenship and
Immigration Services
(USCIS) has responsibility for adjudicating applications for refugee status and reviewing case decisions; the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) screens arriving refugees for admission at the port of entry.

5 Department of Health and Human Services/Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) – ORR administers domestic resettlement benefits for arriving refugees.

6 International Organization for Migration (IOM) – Department of State contractors serve primarily as the travel agent for the USRAP and the OPE in certain locations.

7 Non-Governmental Organizations – Provide resettlement assistance and services to arriving refugees.


United States provides protection to eligible asylum applicants if they have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution due to:

1 Race

2 Religion

3 Nationality

4 Membership in a particular social group

5 Political opinion

If you are eligible for asylum you may be permitted to remain in the United States. To apply for Asylum, an application for Asulym and for Withholding of removal must be filed within one year of your arrival to the United States. There is no fee to apply for asylum.You may include your spouse and children who are in the United States on your application at the time you file or at any time until a final decision is made on your case. To include your child on your application, the child must be under 21 and unmarried.

Can you work in the United States

You cannot apply for permission to work (employment authorization) in the United States at the same time you apply for asylum.

You may apply for employment authorization if:

1 150 days have passed since you filed your complete asylum application, excluding any delays caused by you (such as a request to reschedule your interview) AND

2 No decision has been made on your application

If you are granted asylum you may work immediately. Some asylees choose to obtain Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) for convenience or identification purposes, but an EAD is not necessary to work if you are an asylee.

To apply for employment authorization, you must file an application for Employment Authorization. There is no fee to apply for your first EAD if you have a pending asylum application or if you have been granted asylum.

Can you bring your Family to the United States

If you are granted asylum you may petition to bring your spouse and children to the United States by filing an application for Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition. To include your child on your application, the child must be under 21 and unmarried. You must file the petition within two years of being granted asylum unless there are humanitarian reasons to excuse this deadline. There is no fee to file this petition.

Permanent Residence (Green Card)

You may apply for a green card one year after being granted asylum. To apply for a green card, file an application for Adjustment of Status. You must submit a separate application packet for yourself and, if applicable, for each family member who received derivative asylum based on your case.

It is of significant importance that an experienced and knowledgeable immigration lawyer is retained to protect your interest as that can make all the difference in the world. At Bhagwati and Associates, P.L.L.C., it is our top most priority to protect our clients’ best interest by providing experienced, knowledgeable, and aggressive representation, while making sure that each of our client gets the successful results and no client of ours is unjustly treated, deported or removed from the United States or is precluded from coming to the United states.

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