Refugee and Asylum Applications

A refugee is someone who is unable or unwilling to return to and avail himself or herself of the protection of his or her home country or, if stateless, country of last habitual residence because of persecution or a well founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

Asylum is relief for a foreign national to remain in the U.S. under legal status because the foreign national has suffered past persecution in his home country or country of last habitual residence, or because the foreign national has a well founded fear of future persecution in his home country or country of last habitual residence and such persecution is based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.

Eligibility Criteria

If you are a refugee, you must apply for a green card 1 year after you are admitted to the United States as a refugee if you:

  • Have been physically present in the United States for at least 1 year after being admitted as a refugee
  • Have not had your refugee admission terminated
  • Have not already acquired permanent resident (green card) status

You are ineligible for refugee status in the U.S. if you:

  • Have ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in the persecution of any person on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion
  • Have been firmly resettled in another country. You will be considered firmly resettled if you have been offered resident status, citizenship, or some other type of permanent residence in a country other than the U.S. and the homeland from which you are fleeing. Other instances which may be considered firm resettlement are if you hold dual citizenship with a third country or if you are entitled to automatic citizenship in a third country, and you have no fear of persecution in that third country
  • Are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen or a special immigrant. Instead, you should apply for an immigrant visa. An immediate relative is a parent, spouse, or unmarried child under the age of 21


If you are an asylee, you may apply for a green card 1 year after being granted asylum if you:

  • Have been physically present in the United States for at least 1 year after being granted asylum
  • Continue to meet the definition of a refugee (or continue to be the spouse or child of such a refugee)
  • Have not abandoned your refugee status
  • Are not firmly resettled in any foreign country
  • Continue to be admissible to the United States (A waiver may be available to you if you are now inadmissible)
You are ineligible to apply for Asylum under section 208(a)(2) of the INA if you:
  • Failed to file an Asylum application within one year of your last arrival in the U.S. or April 1, 1997, whichever is later
  • Previously applied for Asylum and were denied by an Immigration Judge or the Board of Immigration Appeals
  • Can be removed to a safe third country pursuant to a bilateral or multilateral agreement


For more information about applying for refugee and asylum status, or to determine the best course of action in your individual case, please contact our office to schedule a free consultation.