Asylees may be eligible for lawful permanent residency after being physically present, in the United States, for one year after their asylum grant.

Refugees may be eligible to apply for lawful permanent residency after being physically present, in the United States, for one year since being admitted as a refugee.

For a complete guide to U.S. Refugee, Asylum Law and Policy, click here.

Requirements for Residency as an Asylee or Refugee

The rules for asylees and refugees are slightly different, but mostly the same.  To be eligible for lawful permanent residency, an asylum holder must:

  • Be physically present in the United States at the time of filing;
  • Have been physically present in the United States for a minimum of one year since they were granted asylum;
  • Still be in asylum status;
  • Still meet the definition of an Asylee/Refugee (or spouse or child);
  • Not have resettled in another country;
  • Be admissible to the United States (or be eligible for a waiver);
  • And deserve approval.

What Does Not Affect Eligibility for Lawful Permanent Residency?

Asylum holders are not subject to certain grounds of inadmissibility, including (1) public charge, and (2) entering the U.S. with ‘proper documents.’  This means that asylees who presented themselves at the border without documentation, or who received public benefits are still eligible for lawful permanent residency.

What Makes An Asylee or Refugee Ineligible for Lawful Permanent Residency?

Most other grounds of inadmissibly can be waived, including health issues, certain criminal convictions, entry without inspection, prior deportations, and polygamy.  Drug trafficking, terrorism, security grounds, Nazi persecutors, or those who have committed genocide are not eligible for a waiver.

You must also continue to meet the definition of an asylee, meaning that you still fear persecution in your country of origin.  Thus, you should not visit the country from which you fled, or USCIS may think that you no longer need protection in the United States.

Additionally, you must not have resettled in a third country.  If you need to depart the United States for any reason, you should first consult an attorney and apply for a refugee travel permit before you leave the United States.

What Do I Need To Apply for Lawful Permanent Residency?

To apply for lawful permanent residency, you’ll file a series of forms, along with supporting evidence.   Some of the most notable items are:

  • Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Those who entered the United States in refugee status do not pay the filing or biometrics fee.  Those who were granted asylum within the United States will pay the corresponding fees; however, applicants may request that the fees be waived.
  • Proof of an asylum grant, I-94 card, or admission stamp;
  • Copy of your nonimmigrant visa (if applicable);
  • Evidence of one year of physical presence in the United States;
  • Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record: the requirements for this form will vary depending on whether you are an asylee or refugee, and whether or not you entered with a “Class A” medical condition.
  • Records of any arrests, convictions, and court cases: If you’ve had any contact with law enforcement, it is important that you contact an immigration attorney before filing for any immigration benefits.
  • Form I-602, Application by Refugee for Waiver of Grounds of Excludability– if any waivable grounds of inadmissibility apply to you.