Immigration through Refugee or Asylum Status

Each year, thousands of people come to the US looking for protection from persecution due to factors such as race, nationality, religion, political opinion, or membership in a certain social group. Those eligible for asylum will likely be allowed to remain in the United States. To apply for asylum protection, an immigrant must file form I-589 (application for asylum and for withholding of removal) within one year of their arrival in the country.

Eligible immigrants may include their children and spouses that are already in the US at the time of their application, or at any time before a final decision is made. For a child to be included on the application, they must be unmarried and under 21 years of age. Immigrants may not apply for employment authorization at the same time as they apply for asylum; they can apply for permission to work 150 days after the application as long as no decision has been made.

If an immigrant is granted asylum, they may begin work immediately. Some asylum seekers opt to get their work documents for ID purposes, but these documents aren’t necessary to legally work in the US if asylum has been approved. Asylees applying for permission to work must file Form I-765 (application for employment authorization). Application is free for asylees.

If an immigrant is granted asylum or refugee status, they may apply for their green card after one year has passed. To do so, they must file Form I-485 (application to register permanent residence or to adjust status). Separate forms must be submitted for the immigrant and for each family member that received asylum status along with them (if applicable).

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