An immigrant may be granted refugee status or asylum for a variety of different reasons. These reasons must revolve around the idea that these individuals have been persecuted...or fear they will be persecuted...on account of race, religion, nationality, and/or membership in a particular social group or political opinion.
While many people use the words “refugee” and “asylee” interchangeably, they mean two different things. In this article our Las Vegas NV immigration attorneys answer frequently-asked-questions about refugees and asylees in Nevada.
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) defines refugee as: any person who is outside his/her country of nationality and is unable or unwilling to return to that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of:
- membership in a particular social group, or
- political opinion
However, an individual cannot be considered a refugee if he/she has ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in the persecution of another person on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
Refugee status is granted to individuals who meet the definition of refugee and invoke a certain humanitarian interest with the United States.
Applying for refugee status:
When applying for refugee status, an individual must first receive a referral notice from the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). Once the individual obtains this referral, he/she must complete a refugee application. Potential refugees are allowed to include in their applications their:
- children (under 21 years old), and
- in rare situations, other family members
Then the applicant will probably have to submit to an interview conducted by a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer. This interview is meant to ensure that the individual is fit for refugee resettlement.
Unlike most other immigration applications, an application for refugee status is free of charge. Note that no applicant should attempt to apply for refugee status without an immigration attorney helping.
One may be granted the status of asylum if the individual:
- meets the definition of refugee;
- is currently residing in the U.S.; and
- is requesting admission at a port of entry.
Asylum status will not be determined upon either the individual's country of origin or his/her current immigration status.
Upon determination that the individual is eligible for asylum, he/she will be allowed to remain in the U.S. To begin the application process for asylum status, the individual is required to complete a USCIS Form I-589 within the first year of his/her arrival in the U.S. Similar to a refugee application, there is no fee required for an asylum application, and applicants should retain legal counsel to help.
When applying for asylum, an individual may incorporate his/her spouse and any children who are in the U.S. But note that the children must be under 21 and unwed.
Applying for asylum status does not immediately authorize the person for employment. While an individual applying for asylum may be eligible for employment, it is a separate process and requires separate documentation (USCIS Form I-765).
If granted asylum, an individual may be qualified for a green card after one year. The proper document is USCIS Form I-485, and individual forms will need to be completed for each family member that has received derivative asylum based on the individual's initial case.2
Need an immigration attorney in Nevada?
If you have questions regarding applications for asylum or refugee status, contact our Las Vegas immigration attorneys right now for a FREE consultation at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673).
1 Refugees, USCIS.
2 Asylum, USCIS.