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Know the Laws:

UPDATED May 17, 2013

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If you are an immigrant in the U.S. afraid to return to your home country due to a fear of persecution (mistreatment/abuse), you may be eligible for asylum, which would allow you to stay in the U.S. legally.

Benefits of getting asylum

back to topWhat are the benefits of asylum status?

If the asylum application is approved, you will be:

  • Granted legal status in the U.S.;
  • Granted work authorization (an Employment Authorization Document (EAD));* and
  • After one year of being granted the asylum, eligible to apply for legal permanent residency (green card).**  Note: When you apply for a green card (permanent residence), your spouse and children are also eligible to apply for a green card if they were admitted to the United States as asylees or were included in your grant of asylum.***
For a more complete list of benefits, you can go to the USCIS website’s “Benefits and Responsibilities of Asylees” page.

* 8 U.S.C. § 1158(c)(1)(B)
** 8 CFR 209.2(a)
*** USCIS website

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back to topCan family members benefit from the asylee (asylum status holder)?

Yes.  If you have already been granted asylum, you may apply for derivative asylum status for your spouse and/or unmarried minor children under age 21 (defined in the next paragraph.)*  This means that your spouse and/or or children may be granted asylum status based on your own asylum status.

Unmarried minor children (under the age of 21) could include a step-child who became your step-child before s/he turned 18** and an adopted child (if the adoption meets certain requirements). To meet the definition of spouse, you need to be legally married according to your home country’s law.  However, the U.S. will not recognize some legal marriages, even if those can be considered legal marriages in your home country (i.e., gay marriages, polygamous marriages, etc.).

In order to request asylum status for your family, you need to file the proper paperwork within the first two years of being granted asylum status. You may be able to sponsor your family members whether they are in the U.S. or in your home country.***  As always, before filing any forms, we suggest talking to an immigration attorney.  You can find an attorney by going to our Finding a Lawyer page or our International / Immigration resources page.

* 8 CFR § 208.21(a)
** See 8 CFR § 208.21(b); INA § 101(b)(1)(B)
*** 8 CFR § 208.21(c) & (d)

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back to topCan I become a lawful permanent resident if I hold an asylum status? What are the requirements?

Yes.  If you hold an asylum status, you may apply for your lawful permanent residency one year after being granted asylum if you:

  • Have been physically present in the U.S. for at least one year after being granted asylum;
  • Continue to meet the definition of an asylee (or continue to be the spouse or child of such an asylee);
  • Have not abandoned your asylee status;
  • Are not firmly resettled in any foreign country; and
  • Continue to be admissible to the United States, although a waiver may be available to you if you are deemed to be inadmissible.*
In order to file for adjustment of status to become a legal permanent resident, there are many forms that you need to file.  As in any other immigration proceeding, it is always recommended to speak with a lawyer who can help you to file the correct documents.  To find a list of legal resources in your area, please see Finding a Lawyer and select your state or see our International / Immigration page.

* See 8 CFR § 209.2; see also USCIS website “Green Card for an Asylee”

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