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Legal Information: Federal


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March 25, 2019

What are the benefits of having refugee status?

If your application is approved, you will be able to travel to the U.S. and enter the country with a valid visa. Also, with refugee status, you will be:

  • immediately able to work in the U.S., based on your Form I-94, which contains a refugee admission stamp. Also, you will later be granted work authorization through an Employment Authorization Document (EAD);1
  • eligible for adjustment of status (applying for legal permanent residency/green card) after one year of being granted the refugee status. (Note: In fact, the law says that refugees are required to submit an application for permanent residence one year after entry.2 - You can find lawyers on our Finding a Lawyer page to get legal advice about your situation.); and
  • able to apply to bring your spouse and unmarried minor children who are under the age of 21 to the U.S. within the first two years of being granted refugee status.3 Note: Unmarried minor children who are 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:
      1. the adoption took place before the child turned 16 years old; or
      2. if the child has been in the legal custody or living with their adopting parents for at least two years.4

1 See USCIS website Refugees page
2 8 CFR § 209.1(a), (b); see U.S. Refugee Admissions Program FAQs
3 See U.S. Refugee Admissions Program FAQs
4 INA § 101(b)(1)(E)