A refugee is a foreigner currently outside the U.S. who has fled from his/her home country and cannot return because of a well-founded fear of persecution based upon his or her (1) religion, (2) race, (3) nationality, (4) political opinion, or (5) membership in a particular social group. Nevada welcomes more than two thousand refugees each year.
Below our Las Vegas refugee attorneys answer frequently-asked-questions about obtaining refugee status and coming to Nevada. Click on a topic to go directly to that section.
- 1. Can I be a refugee in Las Vegas, NV?
- 2. How can I become a refugee in Las Vegas, NV?
- 3. How long does it take to become a refugee?
- 4. How long can I keep refugee status?
- 5. What does it cost to be a refugee?
- 6. Can refugees get green cards?
- 7. Can whole families get refugee status?
- 8. Can refugees work in the U.S.?
While many people use the words “refugee” and “asylee” interchangeably, they mean two different things. See our article on asylum status in Nevada.
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) defines a 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
Refugee status is granted to individuals who meet the definition of refugee and invoke a certain humanitarian interest with the United States. Note that a foreigner 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.
People granted the status of refugee are then permitted to enter and live anywhere in the United States. Every year, Las Vegas welcomes about 2,200 refugees. Several organizations such as Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada help oversee their settlement in Nevada.
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 in Nevada.
One to two years.
Unlike most other immigration applications, an application for refugee status is free of charge.
Once a year has passed, the refugee is expected to apply for a green card and request permanent residency.
A refugee “case” usually consists of the principal applicant, his/her husband or wife and their unmarried children younger than 21. The USCIS may consider more distant relatives on a case by case basis.
A refugee is authorized and expected to begin working as soon as he/she has been granted refugee status in Nevada.
Call a Nevada immigration attorney…
If you have questions regarding applications for refugee status in Nevada, contact our Las Vegas immigration attorneys right now for a consultation.
For people seeking refuge in California, see our article on California refugee lawyers.