Immigration Legal Assistance

 

Asylum and Refugee Status Information please read bellow

Who is a refugee?

 

Generally, a refugee is a person who has fled his/her country because of fear of persecution. U.S. law incorporated the refugee definition contained in the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, Adopted in Geneva in 1951, which defines a refugee as a person who “owing to a well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”

 

What is the difference between refugees and immigrants?

 

Refugees have fled because of persecution while immigrants have left their home countries for other reasons.

 

Why does the United States receive refugees?

 

The United States has signed the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees, which means that it is obliged not to return refugees to their native countries.

The United States has humanitarian and democratic traditions for receiving refugees and participating in international work for refugees.
U.S. citizens have long supported these traditions. The United States is obliged to carry out part of its global responsibility for refugees because of its affiliation with international conventions and agreements.

 

Where are most of the world’s refugees?

 

The vast majority of the world’s estimated 14.1 million refugees are in the developing world. The Middle East hosted the largest number of refugees at the end of 1999, 5.8 million. Iran, alone, hosted 1.8 million refugees at the end of 1999. Africa hosted 3.1million refugees and 10.6 million others are internally displaced.

How many refugees come to the United States each year?

 

In fiscal year 1999, 85,006 refugees were admitted into the United States through the overseas admissions program. An additional 41,377 people applied for asylum in the United States during fiscal year 1999.

 

Where do most of the refugees in the United States come from?

 

In fiscal year 1999, 16,922 refugees admitted to the United States through the overseas admissions program were from the former Soviet Union, 22,697 from Bosnia,

14,156 were from Kosovo, 9,863 from Vietnam, 4,317 from Somalia, 2,495 from Liberia, 2,392 from Sudan, 2,018 from Cuba, 1,955 from Iraq, 1,879 from Congo, and 1,739 from Iran.

 

How do refugees come to the United States?

 

Some refugees travel to the United States on their own and apply for asylum when they arrive on U.S. soil. Many have lost everything before leaving their countries.

Every year, the United States also admits refugees through an overseas admissions program. Staff of U.S.-based nongovernmental organizations and the UN’s refugee agency help U.S. government officers identify refugees in need of resettlement.

 

What services and benefits does the government provide for refugees who are being resettled in the US?

 

The US government provides the following for refugees:

  •  no interest travel loan to the US
  •  8 months Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) and Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA)
  •  food stamps
  •  housing assistance, furnishings, food, and clothing
  •  social security card
  •  school registration for children
  •  referrals for medical appointments and other support services
  •  employment services
  •  case management through community based non-profit organizations
  •  adjustment of status from refugee to legal permanent resident

 

What is the United States Asylum Program and Who Benefits?

 

Asylum may be granted to people who are already in the United States and are unable or unwilling to return to their home country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. If you are granted asylum, you will be allowed to live and work in the United States. You also will be able to apply for permanent resident status one year after you are granted asylum.

For more information on adjusting to permanent resident status, please contact us.

You may include your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 in your own asylum application if your spouse or children are in the United States. If your spouse or children are outside the United States, please contact us.

Asylum status and refugee status are closely related. They differ only in the place where a person asks for the status asylum is asked for in the United States; refugee status is asked for outside of the United States. However, all people who are granted asylum must meet the definition of a refugee . If you will apply outside the United States, please contact us.

If you do not qualify for asylum, but fear being tortured upon returning to your homeland, you can apply for consideration under the Torture Convention .

Who is Eligible?

 

To be eligible for asylum in the United States, you must ask for asylum at a port-of-entry (airport, seaport or border crossing),file an application within one year of your arrival in the United States. You may ask later than one year if conditions in your country have changed or if your personal circumstances have changed within the past year prior to your asking for asylum, and those changes of circumstances affected your eligibility for asylum. You may also be excused from the one year deadline if extraordinary circumstance prevented you from filing within the one year period after your arrival, so long as you apply within a reasonable time given those circumstances. For a non-exhaustive list of circumstances that may excuse you from the one year deadline, please see 8 CFR 208.4 . You may apply for asylum regardless of your immigration status, meaning that you may apply even if you are illegally in the United States. In addition, you must qualify for asylum under the definition of “refugee.”

Your eligibility will be based on information you provide on your application and during an interview with an Asylum Officer or Immigration Judge.

If you have been placed in removal (deportation) proceedings in Immigration Court, an Immigration Judge will hear and decide your case. If you have not been placed in removal proceedings and apply with the USCIS, an Asylum Officer will interview you and decide whether you are eligible for asylum. Asylum Officers will grant asylum, deny asylum or refer the case to an Immigration Judge for a final decision.

If an Asylum Officer finds that you are not eligible for asylum and you are in the United States illegally, the Asylum Officer will place you in removal proceedings and refer your application to an Immigration Judge for a final decision.

Immigration Judges also decide on removal if an applicant is found ineligible for asylum and is illegally in the United States. If you are in valid immigrant or nonimmigrant status and the Asylum Officer finds that you are not eligible for asylum, the Asylum Officer will send you a notice explaining that the USCIS intends to deny your request for asylum. You will be given an opportunity to respond to that notice before a decision is made on your application.

The instructions attached to the application form for asylum, USCIS Form I-589 (Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal) are helpful in defining the eligibility criteria for asylum.

The instructions attached to the application form for asylum, USCIS Form I-589 (Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal) are helpful in defining the eligibility criteria for asylum.

 

How Do I Apply?

 

To ask for asylum, you will need to complete an USCIS Form I-589 (Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal) and follow the instructions carefully. Forms are available by calling 1(800) 375-5283, Downloading the updated forms or by calling us at 856-324-5098.

There is no fee. You can normally expect to complete your asylum processing within 180 days or lesser from the date of filing your application.

If you are applying with the USCIS for asylum, you should send your application to the USCUS Service Center that has jurisdiction over your place of residence. You will find information on where to send your application in the instructions to USCIS Form I-589. If you have been placed in proceedings before an Immigration Judge, you should file the form with the Immigration Court. See also, Application Procedures: Getting Derivative Asylum Status for Your Child, and Application Procedures: Getting Derivative Asylum Status for Your Spouse.

Can I Travel Outside the United States?

 

If you are applying for asylum and you want to travel outside the United States, you must receive advance permission before you leave the United States in order to return to the United States. This advance permission is called Advance Parole. If you do not apply for Advance Parole before you leave the country, you will abandon your application with the USCIS and you may not be permitted to return to the United States. If your application for asylum is approved, you may apply for a Refugee Travel Document. This document will allow you to travel abroad and return to the United States.

Will I Get a Work Permit?

 

Asylum applicants can not apply for employment authorization at the same time they apply for asylum.

Rather, you must wait 150 days after the USCIS receives a complete application before you can apply for employment authorization. The INS has 30 days to either grant or deny your request for employment.

 

How Can I Find Out About the Status of My Application?

 

Please contact the USCIS Asylum Office that received your application. You should be prepared to provide the INS staff with specific information about your application. Please click here for complete instructions on checking the status of your application .

Applicants will be interviewed by an Asylum Officer or an Immigration Judge. The Asylum Officer will either approve your application or refer it to an Immigration Judge for a final decision. If the Immigration Judge denies your asylum application, you will receive a letter telling you how to appeal the decision. Generally, you may appeal within 33 days of receiving the denial. After your appeal form and a required fee are processed, the appeal will be referred to the Board of Immigration Appeals in Washington, D.C.

 

Can Anyone Help Me?

 

If advice is needed, prospective applicants may contact the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The High Commissioner’s representative in the United States may be reached in Washington, DC at (202) 296-5191. You may also contact the USCIS District Office or Asylum Office near your home for a list of community-based, non-profit organizations that may be available to help asylum applicants with advice and help during their processing.

 

AHIO’s attorney will help you prepare your application for interview before the Asylum Office, and Represent you before the Immigration Judge