Legal Information: Federal


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May 17, 2013

Can 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)