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Legal Information: Federal


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Laws current as of June 17, 2024

Am I eligible for refugee status? Where would I apply?

You may be eligible for refugee status if all of the following apply:

  1. You are outside of your country of nationality;
  2. You are outside of the U.S.;
  3. You fear persecution in your home country based on your:
    • race;
    • religion;
    • nationality;
    • political opinion; or
    • membership in a “particular social group;” and
  4. You are either:
    • not barred from getting status by the “grounds of inadmissibility;” or
    • you qualify for a waiver that would excuse (waive) any “inadmissibility” barriers you face.1

Those who fear persecution must get a referral from the United States Refugee Assistance Program (USRAP), which is usually done by a U.S. embassy abroad, by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working with refugees, or by the office of the United National High Commissioner on Refugees, often for those in refugee “camps.” You will receive help filling out your application and be interviewed, while abroad, by a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer. The officer will determine whether or not you are eligible for refugee resettlement in the U.S.2

If you get refugee status, the agency working with you will help you fill out a form that allows you to enter the U.S. You will, again, be “inspected” by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) when you enter the U.S. and a Resettlement Support Center will help you and your family get accustomed to the U.S.

1 INA § 101(a)(42)(A); 8 USC § 1101(a)(42)(A) (definition of refugee); see also INA § 212; 8 USC § 1182 (inadmissibility)
2 See the USCIS website