Since 2000, California has welcomed well over 100,000 refugees. A refugee is a foreign national currently outside the United States who cannot return to his/her home country due to fear of persecution for his/her:
- membership in a particular social group, and/or
- political opinion
There is no fee to apply for refugee status in the U.S. And one (1) year after a foreigner is granted refugee status, he/she may adjust status to become a legal permanent resident.
Update: June 11, 2018 — limited asylum for domestic and gang violence
On June 11, 2018, the Trump administration put into place a new United States asylum policy. The policy states that domestic and gang violence are generally not grounds for asylum.
An exception would be if the refugee comes from a country where the government is unable and unwilling to protect victims of this type of violence. But applicants who seek admission to the U.S. based on domestic or gang violence now face a very high hurdle.
Below our California refugee application attorneys provide an overview of the eligibility prerequisites, application process, time frames, and prices for becoming refugees in California.
- 1. What are the requirements to get refugee status in Los Angeles, CA?
- 2. How do I apply for refugee status in Los Angeles, CA
- 3. What is the fee to get refugee status?
- 4. When will I get refugee status in Los Angeles, CA?
- 5. How long does refugee status last?
- 6. Can families receive refugee status in Los Angeles, CA?
- 7. Can refugees have a job?
- 8. Can refugees become legal permanent residents?
Many people believe “asylee” and “refugee” mean the same thing, but they do not. Refer to our article on California asylum laws.
1. What are the requirements to become a refugee in California?
Potential refugees are 1) outside of the U.S., 2) outside their home country, and 3) unable or unwilling to go back to their home country because of a well-founded fear of persecution on the basis of their:
- membership in a particular social group, or
- political opinion
Once a foreigner secures refugee status, he/she is allowed to enter the U.S. and live anywhere in the country.
In 2016 alone, 1,450 Syrian refugees settled in California. If President Trump’s travel ban goes through, the refugee cap for 2017 will be halved from 110,000 to 50,000 people.
1.1 Bars to refugee status in California
Foreigners will be denied refugee status if any of the following is true:
- The alien has persecuted others;
- The U.S. would face a security risk if the alien was in the U.S.; or
- The alien is already firmly resettled in another country
Note that the foreigner’s home country or immigration status have no bearing on whether he/she gets refugee status.
2. How do I apply for refugee status in Los Angeles, California?
In order to apply to become a refugee, the foreigner must obtain a referral notice from the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). Afterward, he/she must complete a refugee application.
Applicants may include the following family members in their refugee applications:
- spouse, and
- unmarried children (under 21 years old)
Refugee applicants usually have to submit to an interview with an officer of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The officer will determine whether the foreigner is “fit” for resettlement as a refugee in California.
3. What is the fee to get refugee status?
There is no cost to apply for refugee status in California.
4. When will I get refugee status in Los Angeles, California?
Achieving refugee status in California takes one (1) to two (2) years.
5. How long does asylum last?
Refugee status does not come with a specified end date in California. However, refugees are expected to apply for legal permanent resident status after one (1) year.
6. Can families receive refugee status in Los Angeles, California?
Foreigners may seek refugee status for themselves and their:
- husband or wife,
- unwed sons under 21, and/or
- unwed daughters under 21
Note that the USCIS may extend refugee status to other relatives (such as parents or siblings) on a case-by-case basis.
7. Can refugees have a job?
Yes. Refugees are authorized to work in the U.S.
8. Can refugees become legal permanent residents?
Yes. After one (1) year, refugees are expected to apply for a green card through USCIS Form I-485. Five (5) years after becoming legal permanent residents, they may apply for U.S. citizenship.
Call a California immigration attorney…
If you are seeking refugee status to come to California, phone our California immigration attorneys for a free consultation. We will fight to help you and your family come to the U.S. as soon as possible.
For foreigners seeking refugee status in Nevada, see our article on Las Vegas refugee attorneys.